With podcasts and live streaming, have you ever wondered why we must gather together at church every Sunday? Isn’t that a little old school? I mean, why not just stay in your jammies, sip coffee, stream one of the best worship bands on the planet via Spotify, download a sermon from a world-renowned teacher, and call it a day?
The answer comes, in part, from the definition of the word “church” (Greek, ekklesia). Church is not a building. Church is a people. But in particular, the church is a gathering of people. Edmund Clowney (1995) writes:
The term ekklesia is the Greek Old Testament translation of the Hebrew word qahal, and it describes an assembly…Both ekklesia and qahal denote an actual assembly, rather than a ‘congregation’ (which may or may not be ‘congregated’). (p. 30)
Although church (ekklesia) may not be a building, it is a literal gathering, an assembly of people. So, “to do church,” if you will, means at the very least “to gather.” Why would we go out of our way to go to church every week? Because at its core, that’s what church is, a gathering. As pastor Mark Dever (2012) says, “The local church is more than…a gathering, but it is never less” (p. 132).
Now, at this point, we might ask, “Why would God want us to gather?” What’s going on here? What is the theological significance of the church actually gathering?
More on that in a future post… 🙂
Clowney, E. P. (1995). The Church. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press.
Dever, M. (2012). The Church: The Gospel Made Visible. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic.