Here is the article I just wrote for our church‘s Newsletter:
What is the church? Webster says it can be a building, a religious service, a denomination, all Christians world-wide, or a local group of worshippers. Only two of these five have to do with people. We often refer to the building when we say “church”. Did you know that the word church appears 111 times in the English Bible? Every single one of those times, it refers to people. It never means a denomination, they didn’t have those. It never means a religious service (as we say, “I came for Sunday School but didn’t stay for church”). In the Bible it certainly never means a building. They did not have church building until about 300 years after the church began! In fact, I think it does more harm than good when we use the word church and mean anything other than the people.
In the Old Testament they had the Tabernacle and later, the Temple. These were the places where God dwelt. Scripture even uses the phrase “God’s House.” When we get to the New Testament, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:16 that as believers, we are God’s sanctuary! God dwells in us! He has given us His Spirit when we put our faith in Jesus Christ. When we fully grasp this idea, I believe it will change our perspective on things.
There are some things we would not do in the church (the building). There are some things we wouldn’t want lost people to associate with the church (the building). But when we realize that we are the building, we will live differently! As followers of Christ we carry God with us all of the time. The church is us, the people; both locally, those who meet in the building and call ourselves Ca-Vel Baptist Church; and around the world. Believers all over the world are as much a part of the church as we are. I heard a Music Minister say recently, “I help lead the worship in this building where part of the church meets.” I liked that!
We are connected to every believer around the globe because of our common faith in Jesus Christ. The next time you catch yourself saying “church” and meaning a building, stop and think about what you really mean.