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What is a Church?

Much as institutional church leaders may hold strong dogmatic viewpoints as to what constitutes a legitimate "church", the Bible really doesn't have much to say on this question other than what the word "church" means in the original Greek. Namely a "church" as simply an assembly of believers.

Other than Matthew 18:20, the Bible doesn't give any indication as to how many believers have to be assembled for the group to be considered a "church". But if we take Mt 18:20 as the standard, Jesus says, "where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." Well, there you go.

There is the implication that the assembly be a regular meeting. Doesn't say how often the meeting must take place for the assembly to be considered "a church". Though it does say, "encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today:" Heb 3:13 "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another— and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Heb 10:24,25

Nor, presuming weekly meetings, does it say that the meeting much take place on a particular day of the week for the to be considered a "church".

Indeed there is nothing in scripture to indicate that a regular meeting a believers in a campus ministry is not a church. No indication that a regular meeting of Christians in a Bible study, not otherwise affiliated with a "church" is not itself a church. Indeed what are referred to as "parachurches" today would, in New Testament times, be considered churches.

Furthermore the Bible indicates that the assembly does not need leaders before they are reckoned a "church". For it says in Acts 14:23 that Paul and Barnabas went around appointing elders for each church. So before they had elders they were reckoned churches. This is in great contrast to the post-Biblical megalomaniac view of the religious elite that institutional leadership is largely what constitutes "the church".

As I see it the Bible would endorse the sentiment that if you're meeting regularly with one or more other believers, the meeting not being affiliated with a church, that regular meeting is a "church" unto itself.

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources