What Is Church: Ask Your Leaders


I polled a group of reputable leaders, writers, and thinkers in ministry (both famous and infamous), all asking one question – “What is church to you?” – and here are the results I got:

  • Bart Campolo, speaker, writer, and founder of MissionYear:
    Church is such a loaded word that I hardly use it anymore, except to describe that collection of institutions and expectations and habits that never much interested me in the first place. If the folks who wrote the Biblical texts were around now, I think they’d use a different name.
  • Chris Reed, CTI Music Ministries in Willmar, MN:
    I envision “the church” as the localized fellowships of Jesus-followers around the world who come together for the purpose of forming each other in the image of Christ, equipping each other for ministry and evangelism, and then returning to the world to live out those values in practical reality. I’m not keen on the idea that church is the place to “do” this ministry and evangelism… I think of it more as the context in which we equip and encourage each other to these ends. But the church only fulfills its divinely ordained purpose – to “train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life” according to Matt 28:19 (msg) – when it scatters and intersects with all humanity so that it might bring the light of Jesus there. Coming together is important. But unless it is coupled with a subsequent going out, the church is incomplete in its purpose.
  • Anne Jackson, writer, blogger, staff member of Cross Point Church:
    Church is the Kingdom here. Tangible and transcendent expressions of the character of Christ. Love without walls and fear.
  • Frank Viola, author, speaker, and visionary for organic church:
    The church – a word gravely distorted, misunderstood, redefined, co-opted, and evacuated of its original meaning. What is it? That which many Christians have never known in *experience* unfortunately – she’s the most beautiful girl in the world, the fiance of the Lord Jesus Christ – she’s a culture, a civilization, a habitat, a a shared-life community of those who are learning to live by the indwelling life of her Bridegroom. She’s Jesus Christ in corporate human expression.
  • Mike Morrell, writer, blogger, and networker:
    “Church” is a consciously-redeemed subset of humanity creating a culture of astonishment, celebration and lament for the good of the whole; a visible projection of the ineffable Godhead’s fellowship on earth. We live, breathe, love and die to help awaken the cosmos to its truest identity and become whole ourselves. In doing so, ‘Church’ takes on the yoke of Jesus to walk the journeys inward, outward, and together.
  • Jim Palmer, writer, blogger, and triathlete:
    “Church” is relationships – with God, people, and the world. For me, “church” is taking place in some form or fashion everywhere, all the time, with everybody. It involves an endless number of interactions and encounters that largely go unnoticed by the rest of the world. It expresses the significant components of church life-such as worship, discipleship, fellowship, mission, service, accountability, and giving – through an infinite number of combinations of places, times, and people.
  • Eric Bryant, writer and speaker:
    The church are the people who have chosen to serve, love, and reach people in the name of Jesus.  Jesus does not invite us to follow Him for what we can get, but He invites us to follow Him for what we can give!
  • Jim Rutz, author of the book Megashift:
    The most succinct definition is two humans one Jesus.
  • Aaron Havens, missionary and blogger:
    Church is the human form of God.
What is church to you?

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