What is a Church?

,My husband, who is our pastor, wrote this article for a recent church newsletter, and I thought it was worthy of sharing.

What is a church, or specifically a congregation? Have you ever thought seriously about this?

Well, the first thing we say, of course, is that it is a gathering of the people of God in a certain place. People may gather at schools or work places or gyms, or ball games, but none of these places can be a congregation because they lack the one defining requirement, the people gathered there must be people who follow Jesus.

Now we have to admit that not all people who have their names on the roll of a congregation are people of God. As the Lord points out in the parable of the wheat and the tares, some are not who they seem to be. They are not really part of the true congregation. At least, not yet.

As the people of God gathered together, a true living congregation seeks always to grow in grace and faith in the Messiah. I don’t care how big your gathering or what the name plate on the door says, a living congregation must be a spiritually growing congregation. No one achieves full sanctification in this life, but those who truly confess Jesus as their Lord strive to attain that goal.

A living congregation has living Christians at the core. And living Christians are those who grow in their faith lives through ever increasing understanding of what it means to confess with their mouths that Jesus is Lord.

Congregations where there is no faith growth or signs of life are dead gatherings and the Holy Spirit is not at work among them.

Dead gatherings might survive for a time, but they will eventually fail, for if the Lord doesn’t bless those who call on His name there is no hope.

So the question for St. Paul’s, and for all congregations is this — will you be living or will you be dead?