Church: a building used for religious activities, particularly worship services.
Look at that building over there. It’s so beautiful in all its splendor. The stained glass windows must have cost a fortune. I have never seen a “church” so big. It must seat 10,000 people easily. Did you hear that they paid that church mortgage off in just under ten years? It had to be over $10 million dollars. They must be proud.
Hi. My name is Kionna and I am a recovering “church” addict. At least by Wikipedia’s definition. From the time I was little, I was a “church” goin’ girl. I practically got mail there. When people asked me what “church” I went to, I was proud to profess that I went to one of THE biggest and baddest churches around. It was that big building in the hood—like a rose right out of the concrete. I really felt like I was somebody. A funny thing happened, though. I went off to college and had to stand on my own. No more riding the spiritual coat tails of my mom. I had to fly on my own. I had to dig deep down and stand on what I had learned in “church.”
I thought I had it all together until I met these “weird”, young students that were proud to call themselves disciples for Christ. I know. Weird, right? They all lived together in a modest home near the campus. They were different. And for some strange reason they wouldn’t leave me alone. So after relentlessly inviting themselves to my apartment over and over again to study The Word, I finally obliged. I was gonna let these “bible thumpers” know once and for all who I was. They were about to find out that I went to one of the biggest “churches” in Sacramento. I was gonna hit them with all of my knowledge. Then they would see that I knew all about “church” stuff and leave me alone.
I would say that the first night went well. I knew about who Jesus Christ was and about seeking His kingdom. I knew that I was a sinner and that He was my Savior. During another meeting, I let them know that I knew about His infallible word and the evidences of Jesus. I was pretty pumped and proud of myself. I was able to debate with them like one of the best. I thought, “maybe this will teach them to stop messing with this “church” goin’ gal.” Maybe now they would go and talk to someone who really needed them and who didn’t already go to “church.” Well, you guessed it—I let them come back again and again. This time I was quiet and I listened.
Discipleship? Multiply? Teaching others about Jesus so that they can teach others so that they can teach others so that they can teach others. Counting the cost of being a disciple for Jesus? It was all pretty radical to me. I mean of course I knew that I wasn’t supposed to do certain stuff if I called myself a “church goer.” But what they were saying and what I was reading in the Bible had my head spinning. Many times they were at my apartment until the wee hours in the morning discipling me. Having patience with me. Loving me. It was beautiful. And then, there was a breakthrough; this was the night that we studied about The Church—His Church.
We started in Colossians 1:15-18: The church is the body of God, Jesus is the head. You can not have access to the head without being in the body. And then in Ephesians 2:19-21 they pointed out that the church is the family of God. And in Ephesians 2:20 we saw that Christ was the Cornerstone of the church. When Jesus told His disciples that He would build His “church” He did not mean a building or organization, but simply a group of people redeemed from sin by His sacrificial death. So what were they saying? They were saying that “church” is not a building used for religious activities and worship, but rather an assembly of HIS people doing HIS work; no nails, no sheetrock and no stained glass windows.
Simply put: a church without walls.
This was mind-blowing to me, yet so foundational. They were saying that His church—the church that Jesus speaks of in the Bible—wasn’t a building at all, but that the true church lived in me. Having a beautiful building that the church worships in is not the problem. The problem comes when the building confines the church to the building. Sometimes complacency sets in and the true church body forgets its missional mandate.
We must always remember that Jesus sent His disciples on a mission. We are His disciples. The missional church defines itself in terms of its mission—being sent ones who take the gospel to and incarnate the gospel for all to see. Jesus was the first apostle. He was sent by his Father. He, in turn, sent the Twelve. They went to people who would then take the gospel to the rest of the world. Whoever received it would understand that they, too, had been sent. With the gospel being what it is, the church is the bearer of the gospel, not a building. It never has and never will be. I will forever be thankful to God for sending His agents to me in the form of relentless, college students. I thank the Lord for building the most beautiful church of all. It’s invisible, but I can see it.