“Wang Ming-dao’s statement, ‘Where there are Christians, there is a church,’ is a profound definition. Especially is it profound because it comes from a church growing rapidly and laboring under the most difficult circumstances.”

A CONGREGATION OF BELIEVERS IS A CHURCH

A few months ago I was teaching a small group of believers in the village of La Rumurosa in Old Mexico. I was explaining Matthew 18:20 — “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am in the midst of them.”

In Spanish it says, “Donde hay dos o tres congregados en mi nombre, alli estoy en medio de ellos.”

One word leaped out at me. I had never noticed it before. It is the Spanish word congregados which means “gathered” in English.

“Gathered” means “congregated.” “Where two or three are CONGREGATED in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” This reminded me of the English word “congregation.”

I asked the group of Mexican believers, “According to this verse, how many does it take to make a congregation?” As I waited for them to answer, I was struck with the weight of the answer that was forming in my own mind.

Two or three is all it takes to make a congregation — a congregation of believers with Jesus in the midst is a church! This does not mean just any two or three people. It means two or three who are called by Jesus’ name, because they belong to Him.

JESUS IN THE MIDST

“Jesus within” is the experience of the individual in his own private walk with the Lord. “Jesus in the midst” carries the same meaning within a church fellowship.

“Jesus in the midst” is Jesus walking among us, touching us, speaking to us through the gifts of the Spirit. It is Jesus flowing through the members of His Body, the Church.

“Jesus in the midst” is the corporate experience. “Jesus within” is the private experience.

When two or three true, born-again believers come together in His name, Jesus is IN THE MIDST. Jesus in the midst is CHURCH!

This is a different experience than Jesus within. We cannot experience Jesus in the midst while we are alone. We can only experience Jesus in the midst when we are in company with others — at least one or two others.

Are two or three together a church in the fullest sense of the word? Yes, it is a church in the fullest sense of the word. It is the basic church.

You can have more than two or three and it is still a church, a church in the fullest sense, but it does not become more church because there are more than two or three. It only becomes a bigger church.

THE ROLE OF CHURCH LEADERS

What about pastors, teachers, apostles, evangelists and prophets? Is it a church without these being present? Yes, it is a church, even without all of the above.

The fourth chapter of Ephesians says that the Lord gave all these five ministries to the church. He gave these gifts to something that was already in existence.