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Ecclesiology comes from the Greek κκλησία (ekklesia), which meant a gathering or a meeting.

What is Church?
House and Home - We think these words means the same thing. But they are technically different. What is the difference?

Houses are made with bricks and beam
Home is made of love and dreams

Understanding the way we use these words somewhat interchangeably may help us understand the two ways we use the word church. Of course we will observe that one way (the way we use home) is more biblical.

Church as Vessel

  • A ship is a ship with or without a crew
  • House
  • Organization
  • Institution
  • How are we “part” of the church?
    Church is sometimes viewed like the concept of house. It is an empty vessel in which people reside.
    Church has also been regarded as a ship. What is flawed about these metaphors? They are flawed because they assume that the church is something other than the people who are its “members” (Here’s the church, here’s the steeple, look inside and here’s all the people). Even in our efforts to be exact about church and church building, we can still regard the church as a conceptual entity that somehow exists apart from the people who ARE the church. This is an organizational or institutional view of church.

    The Bible doesn’t describe the reality and experience of church in this way. In the Bible, church is more like a home in that it refers to the people that comprise the church through out time and space. So that you cannot have one with the other.

    This is why the teaching on unity is so evident. One cannot simply separate from the church and go to the church of one’s choice. There is an essential unity and connection to church. God has made us one.

    Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

    Mixture and Compound Analogy: It should be noted that compounds don't necessarily retain the properties of their constituent elements. Water, for example, has very few of the properties of either hydrogen or oxygen.

    The Church is not “Chex Mix”

    Brass is a mixture of the elements of copper and zinc.
    Bronze is a mixture of copper and tin.
    Water is a compound of the elements hydrogen and oxygen.
    Cinnabar is a compound that contains mercury and sulfur.
    What is the difference between mixtures of elements and compounds formed when elements combine chemically?

    Images in Scripture that Describe the Church


    1. Romans 12:4-6
    2. 1 Corinthians 12
    3. Ephesians 4:25

    Children of God

    1. Romans 8:12-17
    2. Philippians 2:14-16
    3. 1 John 3:1-3
    4. Ephesians 2:18-20
    5. 1 Timothy 3:14-16

    Temple of God

    1. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17
    2. 2 Corinthians 6:15-17
    3. 1 Peter 2:4-8
    4. Ephesians 2:19-22


    1. 1 Peter 2:9-12
    2. Colossians 3:12
    3. Titus 2:13-15

    Life Together

    1. Identity and Behavior
    2. Church is a result of God’s saving activity in Jesus Christ
    3. We are connected to Christ and therefore connected to church – We are church!

    In all of these texts and metaphors, we notice that identity calls for a certain type of behavior. So, being “in” church is not as important as “being church.”

    Church is not so much the way to salvation as it is the result of salvation. God’s saving action thru Jesus Christ, his desire to overcome sin and to be present thru the Holy Spirit results in the church. Church is the outgrowth and evidence of God’s mission

    But to ask a question “Can I be saved apart from the church?” misunderstands the whole concept of church. The saved are “church.” and the church is simply the saved.
    Likewise, when church membership is viewed as the way to be saved, then this too is a misunderstanding of the concept of church. God saves. Jesus saves. Those who comes to Christ in confession and humble penitence and submerge their life into Christ’s life are saved. They are added to the church (by God).

    We don’t go to church – we are the church.

    Church is a foretaste of the coming rule of God. A sign of the way it is going to be. Church is an eschatological realization of what is to come. Missional Church.

    Chris Benjamin

    West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
    Evening Sermon, 15 April 2007
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