When we think of a church, many of us think of a building–perhaps one with a steeple. But in the Bible, the word “church” means a group of people. It can mean a group who are physically in a common location or a group who are not necessarily physically together but who share some characteristic.
The word “church” was not specifically a religious word at all. In fact, in the Bible there is a case where this word is used of a group of pagans who had gathered to oppose the work of the apostle Paul (Acts 19:32, generally translated “assembly”).
The word could not possibly mean a building of any sort, and in the Bible there is no mention of any church owning a building.
When we think of the church as a building, in our minds we tend to distance ourselves from the idea of being the church. But according to the Bible, we as Christians are the church. What we do, the church does, whether it is good or bad. What we do not do, at least our part of the church does not do.
We need to start thinking in these terms. We are the church. The building may be a church building or a chapel or a tabernacle, but the building cannot be the church. The church is the bride of Christ—and he is not about to wed a building. Christ died for the church—and he certainly would not have died for a building.
As Christians, we get way too focused on our buildings. They consume the majority of our budgets, and they can cause us to lose focus on who we really are and what God has really called us to.
—Charlie Webster, Director