Before we get started…

In my “about” page I mention the “institutional church”.  Watch out those can be bad words when used on the outside.  Those words can take on many different meanings, and can be based on a person’s life experience, or even from a definition a certain pastor or author conjures up.

I personally think there is no way we could ever define Church as God created.  But, if you held a gun to my head and made me define it, I would simply define the “institutional church” as any form of church (small c) that man tries to set up in an effort to create what God has already created.

The Body of Christ, or the Church (big C), just IS – and I cannot define what IS is.

His followers are His Church – the actual Body of Christ.  So in some form or fashion (and there is no RIGHT way), we are His hands, we are His feet.  God has no other way for Him (Christ) to be seen in the world except through His Bride, the Church.

I read a lot, and I see many times authors of blogs or books mention church (little c), and Church (big C) as I did above as an example.

So here is my first question to start this blog…

Should we as His followers ever use the term church (little c) when talking about the Bride of Christ?  Isn’t the Church always a Big C?

I think if we are called to be unified in Christ, we should always use the term Church no matter the circumstances.  I see the use of a small c as being divisive.  One person has his church, and another has their church, but in reality should we not all be part of the same Church?

Thoughts?

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10 thoughts on “Before we get started…

  1. Yes, unfortunately meanings of words change over time.

    I recently put a blog post about this here:
    http://jonjourney.blogspot.com/2011/06/church-etymology.html

    My family gets annoyed with me because I try to avoid calling the event we go to on Sunday ‘church’. Saying the Sunday morning event comes across sounding judgmental… but I struggle with finding a better thing to call it.

    Same goes for the building. If I am asked: “Where is the piano recital?” I’ll answer my kids: “It’s at the building that was built specially for some from the church in this neighborhood to regularly gather at.” And I get strange responses. But I don’t want say “It’s at the church”, because church is not a building.

    But when meanings of words change, it is likely unrealistic to try to change the meanings back. One option is to try to use language that describes what we are talking about without using the term in question. Or defining it whenever we use it. I don’t know.

    Anyways, there is my 2 cents. God bless!

  2. I prefer using the word church to refer to any gathering or group of believers. I tend to use it in the same sense as the English term “assembly”. As far as I can tell, that’s about the closest to the Greek term ekklesia.

    -Alan

  3. jhutton – I read your blog post. It makes sense, just a frustrating thing. I am sure many people think I have lost my mind too. Just because I have stripped the little c from my vocabulary does not mean everyone else should 🙂

    I guess we should just define what we mean every time we use the word Church when we communicate. Thanks for the comment.

    Alan – so when you use the word church to refer to an assembly of believers, do you think it should always refer to the Church with a capital C?

  4. Swanny,

    I guess I don’t make the distinction that you make. I understand your concern with the use of the word “church”, and I agree that people use the words in many ways that are contrary to the NT usage of the word ekklesia. I simply try to use the word “church” when the word “ekklesia” would have been used. Thus, I don’t use the word “church” to refer to a building, or an event, or a meeting, or an organization, or anything like that. I simply use the word “church” when referring to a group of people who are God’s children.

    -Alan

  5. The image of a family re-union provides a model akin to the saints gathering in the NT. I’m wondering if it might add some insight into referring to the assmbling of the saints as well?

    Suppose the Swan’s family is spread across five continents. The Swan’s are having a family re-union. In Smithfield, NC. Which “part” of the Swan family? The part near enough to attend, Of course, any Swan’s family member that wants, even if travelling from Norway, are quite welcome to attend. Of course, the Swan’s in Norway also have re-unions, several of them at different times in different cities with different Swan’s family members attending, based on where they live. This happens, actually, across five continents.

    Who is meeting? The Swan’s. Wherever they are, they are the Swan’s.

  6. I’ve always thought of it opposite. Scripture uses a little “c”, and institutions have always used the big “C”. We are the ones who made the word church a title.

    First Baptist “Church”
    “Church” of Christ
    etc.

    The church is not a title.

    Thanks for the post. I do understand what your getting at with the big “C” vs little “c” distinction. Maybe we’ve pictured the same thing, except with a little switch.

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