When you say “church” what do you mean?

NOTE: For my take, see, “When I say ‘church,’ what do I intend?

Over the past few weeks, this blog has been found by person(s) searching for an “ordinary understanding of church.”   This has prompted my thinking:

What do you think of when you say “church” in an ordinary (meaning non-theological) sentence?

Put your answer, questions, and/or explanatory notes in the comments.

Note: poll de-linked and post updated 3/31/11

About Laura

My name is Laura and I am on a journey, pondering the implications of God's glorious design of humanity and integrating every aspects of this design into a description of whole life health.
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5 Responses to When you say “church” what do you mean?

  1. Alan Knox says:

    This is a tough one for me. While I want to choose “An association of Christians”, the word “association” scares me. 🙂

    I understand that “associations” can be very weak or very strong. They can be inclusive, but tend to be exclusive.

    So, while “An association of Christians” is my favorite of the three, I would prefer something like “a gathering of Jesus’ followers”.


  2. Laura says:

    Alan, Thanks for responding to the poll. As you can imagine, I have some strong opinions, but I’ll be letting those out of the bag later on.

  3. Mark says:

    To me, (as a newer believer); what a church TRULY is supposed to be, is still undefined. I thought “the church” should be a gathering place where people meet with the one and only intention of pure, unashamed, outward worship to God…a place where a pastor teaches and believers gather to learn and teach each other. But with that definition, “the church” could then be a small group or a Bible study, etc. I have come to see the church as an institution that organizes its member’s worship/Christian “experience”. As body of believers, the church organizes how we glorify God through things like outreach, missions, service, etc. All that stuff seems to cost money, the money the members tithe…so then the church requires ombudsmen and a financial overseers to ensure that the tithing is distributed accordingly and the teaching taught Biblical. So then the church also becomes a political body with elections, selections and the merging of opinions for the spiritual and operational functionality of the organization. That is when mankind seems to screw it all up. So, I don’t know what church is, I just know I would love to be sitting outside, on a hill, listening to Jesus Christ teach. Now, THAT is church! This is what happens when you ask the ignorant!!!

  4. Laura says:


    Thanks for posting your ponderings. Defining “church” is assuredly a complex undertaking. You’ve hit on some of the major interpretations of the word.

  5. Pingback: When I say “church,” what do I intend? - Who in the World Are We?

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