the weblog of Alan Knox

Using Words

Posted by on May 7, 2010 in definition, discipleship | 15 comments

Often, we talk about how we use words. So, for instance, many people will say, “We don’t go to church; we are the church.”

But, one of the first things we often ask other believers is this: “Where do you go to church?”

If we ask that question, aren’t we perpetuating the idea that “church” is a place you go?

So, what question should we be asking?


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  1. 5-7-2010

    I keep trying to figure this out. Let me know when you get a good answer. The best I have now is “What church are you a part of?”

  2. 5-7-2010

    Maybe we should go back to drawing half of the fish to see if the other person will complete it to show us that they are a follower of the Way!

    My biggest pet peeve lately is when people pray for “so-and-so” to come back to church, rather than to pray for them to repent and follow Jesus!

  3. 5-7-2010

    What about all of my Christian friend who don’t go to Church? Don’t really wanna talk about Jesus?

  4. 5-7-2010


    That’s the question that I use also. The reply is usually a glassy look and “huh?”


    I had not heard of that before. Thanks!


    I’m not sure what you’re asking? Do your Christians friends not want to talk about Jesus?


  5. 5-7-2010

    Where do you meet with the church? That would probably get some strange looks too.

  6. 5-7-2010

    i drove by a “church” building the other day. On the sign it didn’t say “such and such Church” but instead it said “the meeting place of such and such Church.” I know that doesn’t answer your question but I found it interesting and more accurate than the norm.

  7. 5-7-2010

    One time I talked about this word in a Sunday School class and asked some similar questions. We were talking about what the sign outside the building says (and what it might say). Someone said “It could say the Church of Christ” (which is a biblical use of the word). Someone immediately said, “NO WAY! THAT IS A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT DENOMINATION!”

    I know it doesn’t answer you question, but I think it is interesting how we can be tied down to the words we use — regardless of their actual meaning.

    To answer your last question: I would simply ask, “Do you meet with a church?” And lead off from there about what type of meeting it is, etc. Sometimes even adding “where” has certain connotations. What if the “where” changes from day to day?

    God Speed,

  8. 5-7-2010


    I try to avoid the word “church” unless it is absolutely necessary.

    The question I ask, is “Are you a disciple of Jesus Christ?

    Occasionally the word “disciple” is queried opening the door for further conversation.

  9. 5-7-2010


    I think that’s a good one too.


    We currently rent a place to meet. The city makes us have a sign… yes, apparently its a city ordinance or something. Our sign says, “Messiah Baptist Church Meeting Place.”


    I remember that story. I guess other biblical phrases like “church of God” or “assembly of God” would be out too. I like the idea of asking, “Do you meet with a church?” Thanks.

    Aussie John,

    “Are you a disciples of Jesus Christ?” yes! That’s a great question.


  10. 5-7-2010

    “Hi, I’m a Christian, too. I’m meeting with some Christians at the Trails on Saturday evenings. How are you participating in the work of the church at Raleigh (name your city)? Follow up questions could be, “Where do you get together?” or “What is God leading you guys to be focusing on lately?”

  11. 5-8-2010


    Your last question, “What is God leading you guys to be focusing on lately?” reminds me of one of my favorite questions: “What is God doing in your life today?” A friend asked that question often.


  12. 5-8-2010


    I think the problem is, for the vast majority of American Christians, going to (and coming home from) church is exactly what is really happening. To think otherwise would be like saying “We don’t go to the grocery store, we are the grocery store.”

    So “going to church” fits perfectly into our compartmentalized lives – and we really don’t want to go anyplace we can’t come back from.

    I guess we should really be asking the question “do you meet with any Christians on a regular basis?” instead of “where do you go to church?” though.

  13. 5-8-2010

    Being the Church is simply not permitted in “church.”

    Our gatherings promote the concept of “going to church.” We can talk about all day but until we are will to change the way we conduct business our conversation concerning the church is futile.

    We must ask ourselves, “What is in our facility that promotes anything other than a biblical definition of church?” Find those things whether they are found in terminology, furnishings, or the clergy-layity stronghold, and drive them out like Jesus did with a whip.

    Now let’s be honest – how many are willing to do that?

  14. 5-8-2010


    Yes. I think many Christians would give lip service to “being the church” but still live (and ultimately believe) that church is a place to go, a production to sit through and learn from, and a system of organization.


    I know that you can’t see me, but I’m raising my hand. I’m willing to change the way that I meet with other believers. In fact, we’ve changed many things in the past few years, and not because I’ve forced the change. In other words, we let God show us what to change; we don’t change just for the sake of change.


  15. 5-9-2010

    Bavo Alan, Bravo. We (the people of Connections – our gathering) started this journey some 3 years ago. The Word is by far the most powerful ally. It cuts though the tradition of men like a hot knife through butter.

    It’s not been easy nor are we “there” – wherever there is. But we strive for mutual edifiction


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