What Is a Church? (A Mild Rant)

Church 4WARNING: This post contains a mild rant that may seem silly to those who have never experienced a biblical church.

Recently I’ve heard several ridiculous uses of the word “church.” Here are a few examples:


  • A worship leader at a “Christian” summer camp who told the campers, “I hope you’re ready to sing because we’re going to have church tonight!”
  • A host on a popular television singing competition after hearing a participant sing a “Christian” song, “I think we just had church in here!”
  • A well known “Christian” musician who asked this question to the audience before a concert, “Is it ok with y’all if we have church here tonight?
  • A pastor who watched a “Christian” artist on a late night talk show then posted this on Facebook, “They just had church on Jimmy Fallon!”

Maybe I’m overreacting, but I just don’t like it when people call things “church” that aren’t really “church.” To be clear, I’m not suggesting we see sacred buildings as “church” (I know the cliche about the church is people, not buildings). Nor am I suggesting that we see sacred meetings as “church” (I know the cliche about not going to church, but being the church).

I guess the reason the above references to “church” really get under my skin is simple … There’s SO much more to church than a performance that includes the word “God” or “Jesus” or “faith” or “heaven” or “angels.” Church is about meeting with a group of people regularly and consistently for worship, preaching, prayer, and relationship. Church is about living out the picture painted by Luke in Acts 2:42-47. Church is about finding a group of people who are living the “one-another-passages” of the New Testament. Church is about giving your talents, your life, your money, and your time to God and His people. Church is about baptizing new believers, celebrating the Lord’s Supper, and disciplining the wayward. Church is about finishing the task Jesus gave us in the Great Commission passages (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-16, Luke 24:44-49, John 20:21, Acts 1:8).

My request is simple … Stop calling things “church” that aren’t “church.” Recognize there’s something (American-ly) wrong when we equate “church” with entertainment. Be slow to accept every spiritual performance as “Christian.” Recognize the unique value of a genuine church experience, and don’t use such a noble word for lesser experiences.

Rant over.

Originally published September 2, 2015 on landoncoleman.com.