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.