Secondly, a church is not a Sunday meeting.
Sometimes, we say I’m going to church on Sunday, or church starts at 9:30am, and we’re not referring to the church building in that case, but the church service, the church meeting. But again, this is technically not correct – because the church is not simply a Sunday service or a Sunday meeting. A church is more than that.
Now it’s true: the word ekklesia which we translate as church means “gathering”. One of the most important things that a church does is gather and meet together. But, there are some people who have taken this idea to an extreme – for the history buffs, Knox and Robinson of Moore College in the 60’s and 70’s. These two guys postulated that the church only-exists-in-meeting. In other words, when the church meeting ends, the church no longer exists, because the church is the meeting. So for example, that would mean that as soon as we go home after morning tea today, our church would cease to exist until we all meet together again next week. But this is a crazy, unbiblical idea that does not line up with how Christ or his apostle’s spoke about the church. And for the history buffs, you can read a detailed evaluation/critique of the Knox-Robinson view in Michael Jensen’s book Sydney Anglicanism. 6
No, the church is more than just a meeting of people, and it’s more than just a meeting of Christians. If you assembled together a bunch of random Christians in a building for a particular reason, maybe for a conference or something, you haven’t automatically created a church. Any random gathering of Christians is not a church.
No, a church is a fellowship of Christians. We get the word fellowship from the Greek word koinonia in the Bible which means partnership, and this is a word which is used to describe our relationship with Christ, and our relationship with other Christians. And so a church is not just a bunch of Christians who meet together regularly, but who have partnered together and have relationships with one another.
And you can see that in how Peter writes to his Christian audience. His expectation of them is that they would be partnered with one another, built together as living stones into a spiritual house. In other words, his expectation is that each of them would be part of a church: not just a gathering of Christians; but a fellowship of Christians – a particular group of Christians in partnership (in intimate relationship) who gather together regularly.
And so this picture [SLIDE] of the church is not sufficient. A church isn’t just a bunch of Christians in close proximity to one another. A church is a fellowship of Christians: a particular group of Christians who have partnered together.
But we are partnered together in a particular way and for a particular purpose, which brings us to the third thing a church isn’t.