Reflections: Challenge on “What Is the Church?”

You may think that “What is the Church?” is an odd question, but, as HWA used to say, “Half of you don’t get it!”  As it turns out, he underestimated the number of people who really in subsequent years proved they just didn’t get it.  I actually don’t see the situation as much better today.

You know, since UCG has requested a “fast for the Church”, maybe it’s a good time to review just what the Church is anyhow.  I’m simply floored at what a lot of people say about the Church but apparently haven’t really thought some of those things all the way through in relationship to what the Church is.  Sometimes, you just have to get back to basics.  For at least some of you, I think it is time to clean the barnacles off of your minds, cleanse your hearts and minds of the prejudices and preconceived notions and get back to what the Bible says.

So, I am going to challenge you.  Even if you do not plan on participating in the UCG fast, but especially if you do, I think you should really get your mind focused on “What is the Church?”  Here is my specific challenge in 4 parts, but in order of importance:

1. Do a topical study of “church” in the Bible.  Look up the references, look up the word in Strong’s, and read the verses in different translations.  Instead of trying to prove anything, what do the verses actually say?  I highly suggest that you do not read any organization’s booklets, pamphlets or articles alongside of this particular study.  Ask God to show you what He is saying to you.

2. Read through the Book of Acts.  Read through it once with no break, if at all possible.  Then, read it again, but this time ask questions throughout.  Some questions you might want to ask are:

  • Were the disciples interested in when Christ would establish His Kingdom on the earth?
  • Did Christ establish His Kingdom on the earth?
  • Did Christ establish a Church on the earth?
  • Is the Church Christ’s government on the earth?  If so, then how is it different than the Kingdom?  Furthermore, what markers did He give us to find the right government and the right leader today?
  • For that matter, even if it is not Christ’s government on the earth, then how do we know which church is the right one?
  • Are we told how the disciples organized in great detail?  Is there a lot of room for interpretation?  Are there guidelines we should be following in organizing the Church?  What are the concrete examples we can follow and what requires a lot of reading between the lines?
  • Did the early Church have to deal with outside persecution?
  • Did the early Church have to deal with internal strife?
  • Did the early Church have to deal with heresy?
  • Did the early Church have to deal with people setting up themselves as leaders, ultimately causing division within the Body?
  • Which of the disciples had an easy life?
  • Did Christ promise any of us a rose garden?

3.  If you have time, you might want to read through both 1 & 2 Corinthians as well as John’s three epistles.  Ask yourself the same questions.

4. Lastly, on the day of your fast, I highly suggest reading the 1st 3 chapters of the Book of Revelation.  After each church in the 2nd and 3rd chapters, ask yourself:

  • Could any of this apply to my organization?
  • Could any of this apply to me?
  • If so, what does the text say I should be doing about it?

If you truly ask God for wisdom, in humility, and meditate on these things, I believe the Holy Spirit will not fail to provide you with answers.


  1. Couldn't help noticing the UCG letter for the fasting weekend (August 20) encourages reading Rev. 2-3.

    "….Yet you have kept my word and not denied my name…." – Rev. 3:8

    Has UCG done this? Have many COG's done this? Remember, Jesus is speaking here. If the churches focus on the Father at the expense of Jesus the Son — yes, I fear they DO deny the name of Jesus.

    One article in the July United News actually did this — quoting Philippians 4:7 on page 7, but leaving out three key words from that verse: "in Christ Jesus." Sad, and a little appalling.

  2. John D Carmack

    @Richard: That does seem like an odd omission, and there isn't even an ellipses to note the dropping of words! I supposed someone might argue that it was dropped for space reasons but doesn't change the meaning, but I would be prone to disagree if that argument came up.