What is church?
Growing up, I always thought of a church as a huge building with soaring arches and stained glass windows. The interior boasted marble columns, finely crafted pews, a marble altar and statuary that would be the envy of the finest Greco-Roman museum.
As I grew older, my concept of church evolved into that of large denomination of attendees espousing similar doctrinal beliefs. Naturally, I thought of groups such as the Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, etc.
That all changed when we began to attend a non-denominational church here in Denton. During our tenure at that church, I began to explore what was meant by that word.
The early Christian church had no buildings, at least not in the sense of what we would consider church buildings today. First century Christians were often persecuted and, as a result, often met in secret, usually in homes. As the influence of Christianity spread, eventually buildings dedicated to worship were established and became what we know today as churches.
In this sense, then, the church consists of people not buildings. Paul wrote to various churches, each espousing the same faith. Fellowship, worship and ministry are all conducted by people, not buildings. Church structures facilitate the role of God’s people, but they do not fulfill it.
Further, the Greek word for church in the New Testament, ekklesia, is a general term referring to a gathering. It can mean a universal body but normally refers to the local assembly.
In the New Testament, the local church exists to fulfill three key roles: worship, edification and evangelism. If it fails to do so, then the church is not functioning as God intends. Granted, there are times when churches face challenges and struggles to one degree or another, but a healthy church seeks to overcome such challenges in a way that honors God and His intentions for His church.
The Christian church is not a building or even a denomination, but a body of believers united in Christ. Its role is to worship God, nurture and edify and reach out to a suffering world with the saving message of the gospel as well as the practical compassion and mercy exemplified in Christ.
Our church, Fellowship at the Ranch, is such a body; a family of those who love God and one another. Its members show their love in tangible and intangible ways and desire to serve each other and the community.
If you’re interested in learning more about our community of faith, see the tag line below and visit us. You won’t regret it. Blessings.
Ed Jones pastors Fellowship at the Ranch Church at Robson Ranch. This nondenominational church meets at the Robson Clubhouse on Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m. For information, visit Fellowship’s website www.fellowshipattheranchchurch.com.