Have you noticed we are now in the age of the “adjective” church? Modifiers like missional or purpose-driven or seeker-sensitive or externally-focused or a dozen others precede the word “church” to define a particular church’s philosophy. I guess this isn’t anything new because the old modifiers were denominational names like Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, and so on. But, now we have both, and it’s getting to be a bit cluttered.
What happened to the word “church” along the way? How did “church” lose its meaning as a place where the least, the last, and the lost could find hope, healing, and hospitality? Why do we need modifiers to distinguish one church from another. Are “purpose-driven” churches distinguished from those that have no purpose? Are “seeker-sensitive” churches truer churches than those that don’t use that modifier?
“Church” has become so meaningless a term now, that we expect the adjectives that precede it to define what a particular church does. But, in the Book of Acts, they didn’t need adjectives. Church was a community, a refuge, a place of healing, a gathering of God’s people, open to others, driven by fellowship and mission, obedient to God, gathered for worship, inclusive of slave and free, innovative, sharing, caring, loving, powerful, prayerful, worshiping, gifted — an expression of the kingdom coming in the world now.
Wouldn’t it be great if the word “church” again meant all those things? Without the adjectives. Church. Why doesn’t that say it all?