Clearing the Rubble
Before you establish what the church is, you have to define what it isn’t. You have to clear away some of the rubble before you can build and construct something. There are four misconceptions about the church that are worth mentioning.
One misconception is that the church is merely a metaphor. It’s a term that gets thrown around—almost like Camelot—for some vague sense of community and fellowship. The church is more than that.
Another misconception is that it’s simply coffee with friends—that any kind of spiritually intentional gathering is replicating or doing what the church is called to do. Again, that would be inaccurate or insufficient.
A third would be that church is a human project. That might sound weird to say because it really is. Churches have staffs and elder boards loaded with people. It’s not like angelic beings are running our churches, but the reality is that church is more than a human project. Christ himself says, “I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18). That’s a claim of ownership, power, authority, and ministerial presence that is beyond just in the work and efforts of individuals.
Before you establish what the church is, you have to define what it isn’t.
The last misconception—maybe one that falls hard on ears in an individualistic, consumeristic culture—is that the church is not a voluntary society. It’s not a YMCA. It’s not a movie theater. It really is something to which you are born into, called to, and commanded to serve in.
Until we clear those misconceptions, we’re in real trouble in defining what the church is.
Edward W. Klink III is the author of The Local Church: What It Is and Why It Matters for Every Christian.
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