ecclesia or ekklesia (Greek: ἐκκλησία): a) the principal assembly of the democracy of ancient Athens, open to all male citizens as soon as they qualified for citizenship. b) an assembly of the people convened at the public place of the council for the purpose of deliberating c) an assembly of Christians gathered for worship in a religious meeting d) those who anywhere, in a city, village, constitute such a company and are united into one body
When I hear the word “ekklesia,” I automatically think of the early church. I have soon learned that there are several definitions of the word that do not necessarily mean that but let’s just go with it. Lately, I’ve been wondering what it means to be what I like to call the “Little C Church.” The little c church is the local church. The place you gather on Sundays and worship with family and friends and go eat lunch after with. (As a contrast the “Big C Church” is the global body of believers.) What is that place supposed to look like? I’ve read Acts 4 literally every day for 5 days straight, and each day I wonder if I am living the way Peter and John did.
In the first two verses, I am already convicted. 1 And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead Peter and John annoyed people because they talked about Jesus so much. Do I do that? Do I share the gospel so much it annoys people?
13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. Do people recognize that I’ve been with Jesus no matter who I am? Peter and John were uneducated, but that doesn’t matter. What mattered was their connection to Jesus.
32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 36 Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
These verses made me think about my connection to the church. Do I treat these people as I would my family? Is there “not a needy person among” us? Does this only stand for physical needs? What about those with mental and spiritual needs? How do we care for them? What does it mean to truly not have need in your church? I don’t even have a framework for what a church where every physical, mental, and spiritual need to be met within the body. I don’t know if this was even a goal on mine truthfully before I read this verse in this context.
One of my friends was just released from his job as a pastor. Was what he did wrong? Yes, absolutely. BUT, I often am concerned about how we handle these situations within the church. Were there any warnings? Is there counseling for the mental and spiritual need? He was meeting a physical need, was that need addressed? I think there should be consequences for our actions, but in the church, there should be some sort of restoration as well.
I am trying to reconcile my American cultural values: hard work, paying your own way, figuring it out yourself with the values of God: community, joint responsibility, reconciliation to the body.
I have a unique position as a staff member at a fantastic church in Atlanta (shout out to Freedom Fellowship church). In this position, I have the privilege to help shape the culture of the church. I want our church to look the way God intended, not what we as the leaders believe it should look like.
I’m thankful that God is opening my eyes to what the church should look like. I’m grateful for this responsibility. I pray that our church becomes what God wants it to be not what we want it to be. (And you should come visit us discoverfreedomfellowship.org)
God is good y’all!