When you examine the many different churches that exist around the world, it’s quite easy to become confused and frustrated. In a sea of different religious traditions and messages all around us, how can we discover what God’s true church actually looks like? What is a church and what does God want it to do? Fortunately, when we use the Bible as our blueprint, we find that God has given us a vivid picture of what He desires in His church.
First, what does the word “church” actually mean? Since this word has become bogged down with lots of different meanings, we need to begin by understanding its’ basic meaning in the New Testament. The original Greek word for church (ekklesia) simply means “group,” “assembly,” or “gathering.” We find gatherings of God’s people (Ephesians 5.23) and we also find gatherings of mobs (Acts 19.32). The word “church,” therefore, doesn’t automatically have religious meaning attached to it – it’s simply the word God used to describe His collection of people. In the New Testament, God’s messengers used the word church in two ways: to collectively describe the one big group of God’s saved people (Hebrews 12.22-23), and to talk about local groups of Christians (1 Thessalonians 1.1).
So what is the purpose of God’s church? The group of God’s saved people, whether those people are in heaven or on earth, is God’s way of showing His greatness to the universe. We see this clearly when we read the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Christians in Ephesus. Christians are His lights in the darkness of culture (Ephesians 5.7-14), His tools for accomplishing good works (Ephesians 2.10), His temple and dwelling place (Ephesians 2.21-22), His wisdom on display to angelic beings (Ephesians 3.10), and His companion and partner (Ephesians 5.22-24). Most of all, Christians are conduits of the marvelous glory of God (Ephesians 1.6, 12, 14; 3.21). In His great wisdom, God has ensured that there are people everywhere in every time period who actively work to reflect Him.
What’s the purpose of a local church of Christians? Local churches provide the recharging stations necessary to equip Christians to go out and fulfill their purpose in their local communities. This equipping occurs through congregational worship (Acts 2.42), giving and receiving Biblical instruction (Acts 2.42), storing up money to support fellow Christians in their work for the Lord (1 Corinthians 16.1-4), and unifying around a memorial meal that reenacts Jesus’ last supper with his apostles (Luke 22.14-23; Acts 2.42, 20.7). A local church of God’s people, therefore, was never designed to fight poverty, crime, disease, or any other social evil. Instead, congregations exist for the support of Christians in their battles with spiritual evil.
Here at Tyngsboro, we are a church of ordinary, imperfect people who have been graciously rescued from our many sins by the mercy of a perfect God. Please come join us at any of our public
worship gatherings or local coffee shop Bible classes, or contact us for a personal Bible study to learn more about God’s church or any other subject. We would love for you to help us to do God’s work!