Anyone who is familiar with the ministry of TCAW (The Church @ Work) knows I'm not LITERALLY encouraging people to stop attending church services.
Perish the notion!
What I AM encouraging people to do is to start BEING The Church, whether seated in a pew, in a restaurant, a baseball game, someone's living room, in the breakroom or the board room. “Two or three gathered in My Name,” were the Lord's Biblical requirements.
The word “church” comes from the Greek “Ekklesia” which comes from two words 'ek' meaning 'out' and 'kaleo' meaning to 'call.' An Ekklesia, or 'calling out', was not limited to a Christian assembly. During the riot in Ephesus, stirred up by Demetrius, the silversmith, Gaius and Aristarchus were seized and brought to the "Ekklesia" (Acts 19:23-41). Thus, we can determine the word "Ekklesia" itself has no Christian, Judean, nor even religious denotation.
An examination of the word “Ekklesia” as used here reveals it is, actually, properly translated into English as "assembly" or "congregation." It is a word simply applied to a group of people who are organized together for a common purpose and who meet together.
Most English translations of the Bible SUBSTITUTE the word "church" rather than TRANSLATE the Greek word Ekklesia which appears in the New Testament 115 times. It is translated (in the King James Version) as "church" 112 of those times and as "assembly" 3 times, all three of those being found in Acts 19. Verse 32 says "the assembly [Ekklesia] was confused and most of them did know why they had come together". In verse 39 a city official is quoted as saying "But if you have any other inquiry to make, it shall be determined in the lawful assembly [Ekklesia]". Verse 41 tells us that the same official "dismissed the assembly [Ekklesia]".
Imagine! The Ekklesia – The Church - refers to a riotous mob which the city official indicates is unlawful. The second use is in reference to a lawful gathering that could be called in the future and the third use refers to the same riotous mob after it had calmed down.
What? “The Church” is a riotous mob!!?? Not even a RIGHTEOUS mob? That's sacrilege!
No, it's true. The early translators of the English Bible mistranslated the word Ekklesia using the English word "church" instead of "assembly" or "congregation." This translation has helped promote the false doctrine of a hierarchical authority over a local congregation. When we embrace how this translation has adversely affected the proper understanding of the Biblical doctrine of The Church, we will understand the necessity of translating the text literally, in accordance with the original language, and rejecting the influence of any particular denominational theology.
Now that you know what The Church IS, let's discuss what it is NOT: The Church is not established by anyone but Jesus. It does not attempt to lord over others, placing any individual under the authority of others, nor does it lead men into bondage through manmade tradition, rituals and dogmas, things that would make the Word of God “of no effect,” as Jesus said. Nowhere in Scripture do we see God giving anyone but Jesus lordship over any other man! The Church is made up of Believers in Jesus, with many gifts and ministries, who are bent on advancing the Gospel of the Kingdom, edifying all Followers of Christ under the perfect law of liberty. Any gifts and resources they've been given were given by the Father to impart to and bless others, NOT to hold on to nor to use as a means of earning a living.
Anything less, or anything else, does not bear any semblance to The Church as it was intended. Fact is, the ONLY places on Earth where The Church bears any resemblance to the original model, and is experiencing phenomenal growth, is in 3rd world nations under persecution. What we have in the Western world is, generally, a very sorry substitute.
So, let's start BEING The Church, whether we're seated in a steepled structure or not.