What is Church?

A question I ask every now and then is, “What is Church?” What are the elements that make a church a church, and not something else? Our denomination ascribes to several confessions and state that the “marks” of the church are: the preaching the word, the administration of the sacraments, and the practice of discipline/discipleship. If these are present, you have yourself a church. A text I often think of when pondering this question is Acts 2:42-47. It’s a text where we get a snapshot of life in the early church. Read it and see if you notice the different aspects that made the church the church at that time.

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Verse 42 speaks of 4 practices of the early church:

1. Devotion to the Apostles teaching. For us today this might be a devotion to God’s word seen in the Bible.

2. Fellowship. This is a focus on gathering together as a community of believers.

3. Breaking bread. Breaking bread could mean 2 things: participating in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper and/or simply sharing food together.

4. Prayer. This is the community’s focus on being in relationship with God.

I am encouraged as I reflect on these things. God desires for His people to be in community, to be growing in Him, and to be a blessing. At The Table we see the 3 marks of the church, and the 4 practices of the early church. God is good. My prayer is that God will grows us in each of these marks and practices.

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