The Greek word for church is ekklesia. It meant an assembly of citizens. Luke used the term when he recorded a government official saying, “If there is anything further you want to bring up, it must be settled in a legal assembly” (Acts 19:39). But in the New Testament, it came to mean “a community based on a special religious idea and established in a special way” (Dr. Marvin Vincent). It can also mean either a local group of Christians or “the whole body of Christians scattered throughout the earth” (Dr. James Strong).
Church never means a building. Nowhere does the phrase “go to church” appear in the New Testament. Instead, church carried the idea of a living, growing organism because church was wherever a follower of Jesus was. Sometimes the church met collectively in one location, and sometimes individual believers were out in the community. But wherever the Spirit of God went, church was happening.
If church is not something we go to, it’s also not something that takes place only one day per week. Look at what Jesus did on the Sabbath day:
- went for a walk (Matthew 12:1)
- healed sick people in a synagogue and in a marketplace (Matthew 12:10; John 5:9)
- taught in the synagogue (Mark 1:21; Luke 4:16)
- went to dinner (Luke 14:1)
But we also see Jesus doing all of these things EVERY day of the week.
For Jesus, neither the day of the week nor the location determined the way He lived. Peter summed it up this way, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38).
In fact, before they were called Christians the church was simply called “the Way” letting us know that the church was a way of life, not a day of the week.
Based on how Jesus lived and how the Apostle taught, I think we can see the Church Way like this:
In other words, EVERY day and in EVERY place the followers of Jesus were being enriched in their own lives so that they could reach out to the hurting so that they could come to know Jesus personally so that their lives could be enriched so that they too could reach out to others, and on, and on, and on it goes!
Limiting “church” to a specific location or to a specific day of the week is way too small-minded. Church as Jesus intended it was a powerful force that would set people free EVERY day and in EVERY place from the power of the devil and introduce them to God’s eternal life!