When the word “Church” is mentioned, most people picture an old building made out of sandstone, stained glass windows, and a huge steeple with a cross on top. The picture is complete with the sound of chiming bells and an organ playing inside. This is such a beautiful image, pleasing to many who have been to a wedding or any other religious ceremony; however, a Church is not a building. The word “Church” is actually derived from the Greek word “kuriakos”, meaning “belonging to the Lord”. The Old English translated this as “Kerke” and the Old German language called this “Kirche” which evolved into “Church”. There is an argument that everything belongs to the Lord, including nice looking buildings; however, it actually refers to the people who have placed themselves under the Lordship of Jesus. Hence, they belong to the Lord Jesus. In the Bible, the writers use the Greek word “ekklésia” to describe those that belong to the Lord. This means “a civic gathering”. From this, we can assume that the Church is “a civic gathering of those who belong to the Lord Jesus.” Whether the gathering is in a sandstone building, a convention centre, or an open field, when God’s people gather it is the Church. Most Churches set aside Sunday morning as the standard time to gather. Traditionally this is because it is the first part of the first day of the week; honouring God is the first thing they do in a week. In addition, Jesus arose from the grave on a Sunday morning, so it is also in remembrance of this most significant event for Christians. This is not in any way compulsory as “Church” means “God’s people gathering”, and they can gather at any time, on any day they choose – Sunday evenings, Friday nights, mid-week gatherings all are great times for Church. All over the world, Churches gather in many varied ways. Each has its own style, flavour and priorities. Our Church chooses to gather primarily in four ways.
- In Connect Groups. Gatherings of 2-5 people in a very casual setting. This is an intimate space for discussion and learning about the Christian life. Friends connecting, praying together and chatting about stuff.
- In Huddles. Gatherings of 6-12 people who gather for training in Christian disciplines. This personal space is ideal to gain leadership skills, Christian maturity, and Biblical awareness.
- In Oikos. Gatherings of 20-50 people who gather primarily around a meal and foster a social space of community and family.
- In Church Services. Gatherings of an unlimited number of people. This public space is a time where we express our worship publicly through songs and giving, we hear public preaching of God’s Word with explanations of how to apply the Bible to our life, and we connect with other Church members to encourage them.
Each of these spaces express a function of the Church differently, but are all very important in a Christian’s life. When it comes to Church, some people ask about the giving of money and resources. Most, if not all Churches, encourage giving in one form or another. Giving at Church can be broken down into two categories.
- Tithes. Tithes means 10%. It is the act of giving 10% of your income to God, through giving it to the Church. Tithing is not compulsory in any way, nor is it a requirement of salvation or church membership, but it is a part of our worship to God, demonstrating that He comes first in our lives. It is also an act of faithfulness and stewardship. Tithing also gives the Church finances in order to facilitate effective leadership, pastoring, gatherings and charitable assistance in the community.
- Offerings. After tithing, there is the opportunity of giving an offering. Some people want to give more than just 10% and giving an offering is the vehicle in which they can do this. Offerings are spoken of in Scripture as sowing into the Kingdom with an expectation of reaping. This type of giving goes towards assisting our missionaries and Kingdom frontiers. Offerings are also used for special projects like new buildings and community projects.
Overall, Churches thrive when the people give. Jesus said, “Give and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” (Luke 6:38) God blesses His Church richly when the people of the Church are generous in their giving; and as we practice generosity, we reflect His nature knowing… “…This is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) God’s love for His Church is evident when you read in the Bible that He calls the Church His Bride and His Body. This makes His Church a very important force in our world. It is an amazing organisation to be part of, as it is “a civic gathering of those who belong to the Lord Jesus”