Sunday: Nature of the Church: Part 1

When we speak about the nature of something, we are usually interested in its origins, function, and purpose.

Image © Krieg Barrie from

Besides providing several images to depict the church, the Bible uses a particular word in reference to it, ecclesia, which means “called out” or “called forth.” In secular Greek life the word was used primarily to describe a group of citizens that had been called out from their homes into a public place for an assembly or gathering. The New Testament uses the word in this general sense.

In the Greek translation of the Old Testament (called the Septuagint), the “congregation” of Israel, especially when gathered before the Lord for religious purposes, is referred to as ecclesia.

The Jews were “called out” to be God’s special people, and the early Christians may have used the word to identify those Jews and Gentiles who, as recipients of God’s grace, had been called out to be Christ’s witnesses. In the New Testament, the church describes the company of the faithful the world over. It’s important to note that the word ecclesia is never used with reference to a building in which public worship is conducted. Equally significant is that whereas the word “synagogue” originally denoted an assembly of people gathered for a specific purpose, the Christians preferred to use the word ecclesia. Nevertheless, both words indicate that the New Testament church was in historical continuity with the Old Testament church, the “congregation” of Israel (Acts 7:38).

The word ecclesia indicates, in general terms, a group of people called out through God’s initiative. How does this explain Paul’s use of the word at three different levels: (i) the church in individual homes (Rom. 16:51 Cor. 16:19); (ii) the church in specific cities (1 Cor. 1:2Gal. 1:2); and (iii) the church in larger geographical areas (Acts 9:31).

Ecclesia is the depiction of any group of people gathered together who share in a saving relationship with Christ. This means that individual congregations are not just a part of the whole church; each unit represents the whole. Furthermore, the church is one throughout the whole world but at the same time present in each assembly.

Think about your local church, which functions as a representative of God’s whole church. What kind of responsibilities does that place on you as part of the church body and on the local church itself?



Sunday: Nature of the Church: Part 1 — 16 Comments

  1. I really appreciate your teachings please keep on sharing the word with us for better understanding.God Bless you

  2. Lately I'v wondered why we 7th Day Adventists who as an end time church and having the 3 angels message to proclaim to the world, why we don't have a once a month outside, or public worship service. Perhaps on a beach or in a public square, or park. I feel that sitting within the 4 walls of the church building one is among believers mostly and an outside worship service is a way of reaching unbelievers or those straddling the fence. As people go about their everyday activities it is sure to draw listeners and prayerfully converts. Jesus preached in the open and drew multitudes.

    • wel ghappy to say that this idea has been going on in some countries outside the USA for some time now!!! especially the caribbean!!! so the message is being proclaimed!! PRAISE THE NAME OF THE LORD that this idea also cale to you!!!

  3. I like that idea also Maureen. There are a couple of churches that do that, I don't know if it is done on a monthly basis but the Glenville SDA church and Church of the Oranges goes into the community with their church services. The Corona SDA church in Queens NY, takes AY services into parks.

  4. That is wonderful.
    I have mentioned it to someone at Sabbath school but it was met with little interest really.
    Any suggestions what I should do to get this up and going for our church?

    • Hi Maureen,

      Every such project starts with one person being inspired and talking to others. And in your church, that person can be you.

      To get this going in your church, there are several things you could do. You could get together with one or two others and share ideas and brainstorm to see how/where this could be done. When you have at least one like-minded person (after spending time talking and praying together), you can draw up a plan or presentation for the church board, indicating the benefits of this plan and how it can be implemented. You might want to compare it to the cost of the typical evangelism series (high!!) and the results produced so board members can see the benefits. (I mention one like-minded person, because it is important to be able to talk and pray together, or you may get discouraged.)

      Paulette helped by naming churches that are already doing this. Before presenting the idea to your board, it would be wise to contact the individuals responsible in these churches and spend some time with the on the phone/email whatever, so you understand what is involved and how to make it happen.

      Things don't happen by people wishing for it. Someone needs to put forth the effort to get it before the people and make it happen. Perhaps God inspired you for this very purpose. 🙂

  5. I agree with you about this, but I have this question, what is the significance of a building (church building) to christians today. Is it necessary, is it a sin if we fail to build? There are a lot of verses that talk of buiding the house of God.

  6. A light house for the community. Thats what a church should be. A source of hope.

    We are so inclined to traditional worship. i.e being in the comfirnes of the church which is not a bad idea per say. I, however, think that we need to be a little bit aggresive and strike balance between fellowshiping and witnessing.

  7. I know the building is important but some times we can get so comfortable in our building that we get fat and sluggish in our out reach programs. The world need the food that we are eating we need to get radical for God we need to preach the same message but we need to start going out more than we do.

  8. Correctly as it has been wriite. The originator/ found of the Church is Christ. His purpose... to call the countless lost sinners to His Saving grace. Indeed, the Jews were first called for this purpose, unfortunatetly they did not live up to their call. The same church and its purpose still stands even today. Who would want to go the jewish way? Let us learn a lesson from their mistake if us who live today are to accomplish that which the Lord purposed with Isreal. Let us acknowledge Christ as the head of the church even in our day, He is still authoritative as was with Isreal. God will not use the church to accoplish His will if the church is divided, and leaders want only to throw their weight on the followers in their own wisdom and power. In such insatances, the cause of our Lord is not furtherd, but only for the adversary.
    My appael to all our ministers/leaders in our churches is that they get authourity only from the founder of the Church. Any diversion from this, will lead only to further their ambition. We are a church on a mission and as such our conduct and deportment should be that of our Master, the one of being servants to the people.
    Let the Church organised and conducted in such a way that wont chase people away, but draw them to saving grace of god. Simplicity, meekness, humbleness, gentleness, welcoming,participation, admonishing in the light of the word should be seen in our leader. Let us not get or copy what is happening in the world and bring it in the church... Young ministers who seek to be original.. please be advised.

  9. Building the church i.e physical structure is necessary to identify ourself in the society but still outside witnessing is vital for us as christians.

  10. It was about three years ago that it came to me from what seemed like out of nowhere the thought that Worship services among the people outside of the church building is what we the end time church need to do. And as I said earlier when I mentioned it and found it brought little response I found myself shelving the idea. But every now and then on Sabbath morning while hearing the message preached I find myself looking around at the same congregation of people that have heard the message over and over and I just so wish that those outside the church going about shopping etc many I'm sure that are heavily burdened with worries could hear what is being preached.
    Then recently I visited an elderly family member that stubbornly sits on the fence so to speak, believing in a god and also believing that you can be your own god.....he is terribly mixed up and on the verge of Dementia and I do ask you all please to include him in your prayers,if you will. Anyhow as I was leaving he said he had two books for me that he found in some second hand book store. One was an historical love story the other the biography of James Hudson Taylor. This latter I have almost finished reading and have found it such an inspiration as to what God can do in peoples lives if they pray and put their trust in Him.What an amazing servant of Jesus was the man Hudson Taylor. And whilst reading this biography it has brought home to me even more so how we the 7th day Adventists need to come out of our comfortable zone and witness to the people.
    Thank you for all your replies,I will now definitely share it with others,pray with others and present it before the Board.

  11. Upon studying the nature of the church,we realize that the church coukd mean the assembly of God's faithfuls called to have a covenant relationship of Christ. The Bible also tell us that we are the temple of God and that we are to keep our bodies as holy as required by God.
    The point is that we need to appreciate ourselves as christians and that we portray tje real nature of God's church through our conduct, our relationships and every aspect of our life. Since we have a convenant relationship with God,we are to exhibit the love that been bestowed on us to others by making those who do not know Christ have to desire to come closer and closer to Christ.
    Our conduct towards others including those we profess tha same faith with should give a good image of the church of God.

  12. Acts 7:48-50. The Lord does not desire our faithful attendance to the church building, the lord does not dwell in temples but rather He wants us to allow the Holy Spirit to dwell in our souls - not resits the Holy Spirit.


Please leave a comment long enough to say something significant and considerably shorter than the original post. First and last name required.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *