Joel at “the double edged sword” has written an excellent article called “The Church – A Who or A What?” In this post, Joel suggests that the church is a “who” and not a “what”. He then examines how our language should change to reflect the nature of the church. He explains how our use of the word “church” will affect our understanding of the church:
Perhaps our nonchalant use of the word [church] actually truly defines how we see it – a building, a structure, an organization. Or is it even possible for modern day, positional Christianity to envision church without buildings, endless programs and services that play out like clockwork each week?
From my experience, it seems inevitable for the conversation, the drive, the focus to switch to new structures and building projects. Homeless outreaches have to wait as new mortgages are paid. Spiritual widows and orphans are pushed to the side because the parking lot has got to be blacktopped and painted to accommodate the influx of new arrivals. After all, more volunteers are needed now to make everything run smoothly. I’m telling you folks, I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I’ve been in church staff meetings where NOTHING that relates the eternal Kingdom of God is brought upâ€¦ NOTHING!
I’ve tried to change how I use the word “church”. It is very difficult because viewing the church as a building or an organization has been ingrained into me. However, I’ve found that adjusting my speech has affected my thinking towards the church. I now look forward to seeing people when we meet together. I’ve also found that adjusting my speech has caused some very weird looks from other people, but this has also led to some interesting conversations.
What about you? Do you think its important to use the word “church” to refer to the people only and not refer to a building or an organization? Have you attempted to change your speech and/or thinking in this area? What are the results?