(Excerpt from an article by Neil Cole)
I have come to understand church as this:
The presence of Jesus among His people called out as a spiritual family to pursue His mission on this planet.
Granted, this is quite broad, but I like a broad definition of church. The Scriptures don’t give a precise definition, so I’m not going to do what God has not done. I want something that captures what the Scriptures say about the Kingdom of God. In one of only two places where Jesus mentions church in the Gospels, He says, “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst” (Matt 18.20). His presence must be an important element of church.
To a church that has lost sight of its true love, Jesus says these harsh words: “The One who walks among the lampstands, says this…remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place–unless you repent” (Rev 2.1,5). To a disobedient and unhealthy church, Jesus threatens to remove the lampstand (representing the church) from the presence of Jesus. The presence of Jesus is crucial to what church is. His presence is life; His absence is death. He is the most essential portion of who and what we are. He should be the most important thing about us and the most recognizable aspect that the world sees.