When most people hear the word “church,” the first thing they think of is a certain type of building. But let’s see what Christ said about the church so we can more fully understand its biblical meaning.
In Matthew 16:18, Jesus proclaimed, “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (KJV). He obviously had in mind something much greater than a mere architectural structure. In fact, He was referring to the whole body of Christ, which is comprised of all believers worldwide—everyone who has trusted Jesus as personal Savior and is a child of the heavenly Father. The church began on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came and anointed a group of Jesus’ followers (Acts 2). It will continue until an event referred to as the rapture of the church, when every believer in Christ will be caught up to meet Him in the sky (1 Thess. 4:17).
The church is not merely a place for social action or fellowship, though these are important aspects of its ministry. Rather, the church is the entire body of Christ, both corporately and individually filled and enabled by the Holy Spirit to carry out the task designated by Jesus Himself. In other words, the purpose of the church is to bring people to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and to make disciples, instructing them and growing them up in the things of God (Matt. 28:19-20).
Our responsibility is to obey. Have you asked yourself what role you should be playing in the ministry of the church?