Why the Church Isn’t Working: The Wrong Definition


For those of you who are looking at this title, you might be thinking “Sacrilege! Hang this man!” Others of you may be thinking, “I agree. I can’t wait to read what this guy says.” 

I have been on the inside of the institutionalized church for over 20 years now. I have seen so much that never added up to me. I was taught that this is the way church is or is not supposed to be, but I was going through the Bible and could not find some of this stuff. Do you know why? Because it’s not there! 

People today are choosing alternatives to the institutionalized church because they have seen these same things, and many of these have been hurt in the process. I ventured out in January to pursue planting a group of believers who are functioning in healthy community. This is definitely a work of God that I cannot perform. This was born out of my own journey and the journey of many I know. We don’t have all the answers, but God is doing something special.

The biggest reason “the church” is not working is because the word “church” has been wrongly defined. The Greek word ekklesia literally means “called out ones”. Jesus introduced this word for the first time in Matthew 16:18 when he said, “Upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” This was a new concept – Jesus building a group of people called out of sin into His marvelous light, and the gates of hell will not prevail against them. 

We have forced our modern day interpretation of church upon this verse. We think tabernacle, synagogue, temple, or a meeting place. Jesus introduced a new concept that was not going to look like the Old Testament picture. The early church met in homes, met daily, learned Scripture together, and met the physical and monetary needs of each other. Read through the New Testament from Acts thru Jude and compare what you see today. I promise you will see the contrast as well.

I do not write this to create doubt. If you truly know Christ, there is a longing in your heart for more. You and I have been taught a modern twist that looks little like what Jesus described. Stay tuned as I will continue to paint a picture of what a real New Testament church (group of believers) looks like according to the Bible. I can guarantee you won’t want anything less.

Author: Matthew Winters (The Comeback Pastor)

Born and raised in Portsmouth, VA, I eventually landed in upstate SC because when God calls I move. I gave my life to Christ in 1987 and surrendered to the call to ministry in 1997. I am a three-time graduate from Liberty University and Theological Seminary: BS in Religion (2003), the MA in Religion (Leadership concentration - 2006), and the Master of Divinity (Pastoral Ministries - 2013). I have served as a worship leader and senior pastor in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia since 1996. After experiencing a divorce, God graciously gave me my wife, Jennifer, whom I married in September 2015. Between the two of us, we have 6 children. I am the Lead/Founding Pastor of Overcomers Church in Walhalla, SC, a church plant that is helping those who have been overcome by life to become Overcomers in Christ. Jennifer and I both love people and long to see them enter into a relationship with Christ and walk in the power of His Spirit. I pray that these thoughts I share will challenge and inspire you to greater heights and deeper depths for the glory of Christ.

2 thoughts on “Why the Church Isn’t Working: The Wrong Definition”

  1. To us this is what church still is “Jesus building a group of people called out of sin into His marvelous light, and the gates of hell will not prevail against them.”. He has written His word upon our hearts but what are we doing to act upon it. Maybe many churches are empty because the world is writing its word upon our hearts and their promises of a certain car, certain beverage, certain clothing style will bring fullness to our emptiness. In our opinion the emptiness can only be filled with Him. We are looking forward to reading more of your picture.

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