A church is certainly not that building down at the corner with the beautiful stained glass windows and the steeple on top. The church may meet there, but that building is not the church.
The original word in Greek, ekklesia, is composed of two words: ek, meaning, “out from,” and kalleo, meaning, “I call.” The full and simple meaning of “church” according to the original Greek word is “I call out from.”
When Jesus said, “I will build my church,” He was saying, “I will call my people out of the world. They will assemble in my name, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against them.”
This shows that Jesus’ called-out people will rally as an army. They will take the world for Him. The enemy will not be able to stop the advance. This invincible army will be motivated by the love of God within the hearts of its members. They will have a message of love and forgiveness on their lips.
Actually, ekklesia has two meanings: that of being called out, and that of being assembled together. We cannot experience church until we come together.
My wife and I are ONE. We are ONE even when we are separated from each other by many miles. But we do not experience the benefits and blessings of our marriage union until we come together.
In the same way, you and every other believer in your city constitute the church in that city. Even when you are not assembled together you are still the church. But you cannot receive the benefits and blessings of church until you assemble.
To assemble does not mean that you all have to be in the same place at the same time. That will probably never happen in any city.
“PEOPLE MOVING TOGETHER”
John Dawson, in his book, TAKING OUR CITIES FOR GOD, says, “There is no absolute model for what a local church should be.
“I once spent an afternoon with over one hundred spiritual leaders from several denominations. We tried to come up with a universal definition of a biblical local church.
“You may think that it was an easy task. However, we became very frustrated.
“Consider all the circumstances of people on the earth. Then examine all the various models of the Church in the Bible. You will now begin to understand our frustration.
“After many hours of discussion, we had produced many good models. However, we found no absolute definition for the Church other than ‘people moving together under the lordship of Jesus.’”
I like the definition “people moving together.” Most of us have been led to believe that the church is a building — standing still.
If God were to shake everything loose until there was nothing left but a simple, basic New Testament church, what would we have left?
Imagine that I take away all the unnecessary things from what I understand church to be. What would remain? It is our purpose in this chapter to answer that question.