What is Church?


April 23, 2020

What is church?… is a discussion starter or a thought provoker. Especially now when many gatherings are restricted to a small number of people. I have heard some church leaders declaring that “every home is a church” and commissioned the people in their homes or small groups to be a church. They have encouraged them to take responsibility for their own neighbourhoods.

I do think the West has somewhat confused and complicated church? The Bible was never meant for an elite few. Nor was it simply for information, the Bible was primarily for transformation. We are called to be hearers and DOERS of the Word. The book of Acts was not called the book of beliefs. It is the book of the ACTS of the Holy Spirit and the ACTS of the disciples.

Four components make up whatI believe Church is, and I have simply taken the words and thoughts of Jesus. This does not mean it excludes other references to the Body or church, it’s simply boiling everything down to what Jesus says about church. Jesus seems to leave it open, uncluttered and uncomplicated. So, let’s begin here…I’m also thinking from a multiplication mind-set.

  1. Taking responsibility for our relationship with Jesus & taking responsibility for the community and Nations. Matt 16:18-19 and Jesus gives us keys… “whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in Heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in Heaven...”
  2.  The Great Command. Matt 22: “Love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul & strength…love your neighbour as yourself”.
  3. The Great Commission. Matt 28: “Go, make disciples of the Nations & baptise them in the name of the Father, Son & the Holy Spirit, teach them to obey everything I have commanded you, and I am with always till the end of the age”.
  4. Jesus gave us two ordinances:
  • Water Baptism, and
  • Communion.

I believe, there are four key words that must be part of any church to be Church. Let’s include these in the discussion.

Word / Worship / Community / Mission.

Now let’s talk about size or how large does a church have to be, to be a church? Matt 18:19-20 says, “…For where two or three are gather together as my followers, I am there among them”.

In the Jewish tradition 10 men, 13 years and over had to be present for it to be an official meeting. It is the same even today in many synagogues. Jesus smashes this thought for it to be a meeting where HE is present. He doesn’t genderise it, or put an age to the gathering, or say where it must be.

Of course, if we passionately believe and adhere to 1, 2, 3, and even 4 above, then it will not stay 2-3 people. 2-3 people is simply the beginning point.

Church can regularly be held in a restaurant, theatre, café, school, factory, a home. We are not talking about house churches. (Although, I am coming to terms with calling them ‘micro churches’. But a micro church may grow to several hundred, no problem. Then it isn’t a micro church. But I say at that size, please don’t stop multiplying churches. I’ve found as a rule, the larger the church the less they multiply). BUT let’s not define church by where it meets. I believe a church is a church if it regularly holds to the above factors. By the way size is often determined by the leadership capacity and the size of the town.

It’s simple and uncomplicated: micro churches don’t rely on Attendance numbers, Buildings or Cash (ABC). Of course, if you need a building as the attendance is larger than a home, get a building and find the money if you need it. Please DO NOT hear me say church in a home or micro churches are the only way. But they do multiply faster (we all know small things multiply eg a small virus that you can’t see impacts a world), they take less resource, leadership capacity doesn’t need to be as high and they don’t require large buildings. Making disciples is also easier. I say “small is the new big”.

Let’s remember WHY we plant churches, as I have said it was never meant to be complicated, it’s not easy but not it’s complicated. We plant churches so people can come to Christ and do life together.

Some questions:

Connect the 4 key words above with the four key components above.                                                    

How do these relate?                                                                                                    

How could we begin churches like this?                                                                      

Could you begin a church like this?                                                                                      

A fantastic Resource: See below.

Grant McAllister has provided us with a simple and easy-to-use guide fromPraxis to get started in doing a Discovery Bible Study at home that involves the whole family! Including step-by-step instructions, family ideas and scripture lists for you to choose from. 

It's a very simple easy to use resource. In fact thousands of churches have been started using this idea esp. in oral only situations such as Africa and India. But it’s also being used in Western Nations. Grant & Vicki are friends and served in China for many years and saw hundreds and hundreds of churches begin. He now lives in NZ and is aiming to plant churches here and this is one of the main resources he is using to do this in NZ and Australia.


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