In the New Testament, the word most translated into English as “church” is most often Ekklesia.
An Ekklesia is a special kind of gathering of disciples of Jesus Christ, disciples being learners and doers – students who act on what they are learning.
In Roman culture, an Ekklesia was an important part of government, much like a town council, but with a special duty: to teach people to be like and to become – Romans. So much so that if the Emperor came, he would feel comfortably welcome if he should visit.
Jesus used the term to mean:
- Disciples gathered to bring heaven to earth
- Disciples to rule on earth so earth will be like heaven
- Disciples who rule for the Kingdom of Heaven, and
- Disciples who help the surrounding peoples become Christians – little Christ’s.
They met in public space – the Temple, and they met in people’s homes.
An Ekklesia didn’t have its own building (with the expense of building it and maintaining the building) or single leaders like a Pastor who was the only person active until Constantine, who forbade meetings in homes and other public spaces, and whose patterns of worship leading were like the pagans. With a single leader in a robe, who led, rather than having several leaders whose job was to prepare the people for ministry, as taught in scripture.
The main purpose of an Ekklesia is to influence the culture surrounding it, so Jesus served these people through Christian Disciples. And so that people surrounding became Christians.
Through the preaching of the Kingdom of God that Jesus preached and taught, including the healing of the sick and the freeing of people bound by unclean spirits, raising the dead and cleansing lepers.
Ekklesia’s prayed for people, ministered to them, announced the Good News of the Kingdom to them, helped them become Christians and Disciples. Who made more Disciples. Who planted more Ekklesias. Often through local businesses – the marketplace. The Message that Jesus preached and taught spread with wonderful and amazing speed.
And you can learn to take part and be a part of this today. What a great way to live!