Can we come up with a better word than “church?”
It’s so misleading. Ask the average person on the street to describe a church, and they’ll likely talk about a building.
To me, “church” sounds so institutional and formidable. It’s supposed to be the extreme opposite. The Architect and Builder of our faith set out to create a Body of Messiah-followers — a living organism with a warm heart that beats and lungs that breathe. His original design was a Body that grows, gets constantly renewed and is on the move.
“Church” is an English translation of the Greek word, “ekkesia.” It refers to “a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place; an assembly….” (Thayers Greek-English Lexicon).
The church is we the people. Not the places where we meet.
I like “community” better
Several years ago we decided to call ourselves, King of Kings Community. It’s not perfect, but I think it’s an improvement over “church.” And it’s closer to the original meaning of ekklesia.
You may say, “but ‘community’ doesn’t convey any spiritual meaning.” True. But “ekklesia” was not an inherently spiritual term either, when Jesus and the writers of the New Testament chose to use it.
Communities share their gifts
What do we know about the origin of the word “community?” It’s from the Latin, munus, which means “a gift” — and cum, which means, “together, among each other.” Essentially, it’s a group of people who share their gifts with one another.” I really like that, don’t you?
That’s what characterized those first Jerusalem believers. They shared their gifts — both spiritual and material.
“And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met. They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful…” (Acts 2:44-46. THE MESSAGE)
And their community was not an exclusive club that became ingrown and institutional. The opposite occurred. “People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.” (Acts 2:47. THE MESSAGE)
Maybe you’ve got an even better word to describe who WE are in the MESSIAH. I’m all ears. Send your suggestions.