What makes a church a ‘church’?

Published 4th November 2014 by Messy Church

The following reflection and discusion starter comes as a result of some conversations at our recent Regional Co-ordinators’ Round Tables and also from a seminar on Messy Church in Sweden. Each of the following definitions of church contains some truth and reflects the range of churchmanships and traditions among Christians down the ages up to the present day. But where does Messy Church sit in all this?
1. What is a church?

A church is made up of people who are baptised as infants or as adults
A church is made up of people who take communion together
A church is made up of people who are ‘born again’
A church is made up of people who follow a particular form of service/liturgy
A church is made up of people who are on the membership roll
A church is made up of people who are committed to the freewill offering scheme
A church is made up of people who not only attend on Sundays but who also go to home groups, clusters or missional communities
A church is made up of people who go to services regularly
A church is made up of people who speak the same Christian language, sing the same Christian songs and share the same Christian theology
A church is made up of people who are on a God-inspired journey of faith together

Discuss
2. How might Jesus have defined a church?

A church is made up of those who take up their cross daily
A church is made up of those who become like children
A church is made up of those who believe to the end
A church is made up of those who bear fruit
A church is made up of those who do the will of God
A church is made up of those who love one another
A church is made up of those who welcome the stranger, care for the sick, clothe the naked, visit those in prison and feed the hungry

Discuss
3. So what might make Messy Church a church?

The fact that it practices generous hospitality around the stories of God
The fact that it is a community trying to love one another
The fact that it is a community serving one another
The fact that it is a community that meets around a ‘sacramental’ meal
The fact that it is a community of those sharing faith together
The fact that it is a community of any age with no hierarchies
The fact that it is an intentional faith-sharing/missional community
The fact that it is a community prepared to learn with and from children

Discuss

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