I don’t consider the difficult times I face as an opportunity to present myself as a martyr. The times may get tough, but I don’t assume that what I face elevates me to the level of an artificial sacrificial lamb. But make no mistake. Anytime the enemy attacks me - it's personal!
The writer of Hebrews admonished us to consider Christ who endured the cross and despised the shame associated with it (Hebrews 12:2-3). This follows the long list of saints who endured cruel mockings, scourgings, imprisonment, being stoned to death, sawn in pieces, tempted, killed with the sword, were destitute, afflicted, and tormented.
He goes on to say that the world was not worthy of these true martyrs. Their lives were worthy of a good report, even though they never received the promise they sought (Hebrews 11:36-39). This goes back to why I refuse to let difficult times define me as a martyr. Compared to these saints, I don't come close to qualifying.
At the same time, I must be keenly aware of what difficulties mean in my life. On the outside looking in, some things may be considered a streak of ‘bad luck’. But I am learning to be sensitive and discerning when I suddenly face a barrage of calamities.
Over the past year, I have become more aware of Jesus words at Caesarea Philippi. He said that upon the revelation of who He is, He would build His ekklesia. All my Christian life, I thought He said He would build His church. Even after learning of the word ekklesia, I was taught that it was the Greek word for church.
It wasn’t until this past year that I discovered that church is a mistranslation of ekklesia. It was no accident. It was willfully mistranslated by the order of King James. The third of his personal instructions to the translators was to use the word ‘church’ instead of ‘congregation’ (which would have been a closer translation of ekklesia).
CLICK THE IMAGE TO RENT OR BUY THIS VIDEO SERIES TODAY
It was the historical understanding of ekklesia that caught my attention. It was more than simply a called out assembly or congregation. In Jesus’ day, the ekklesia was known among the people as an arm of the Roman government with authority to act on its behalf. Although the Romans had borrowed the concept from the Greeks, it clearly understood to be a legislative body. Jesus said He would build His ekklesia with the authority to act and legislate on behalf of the Kingdom of Heaven.
By changing ekklesia to church, King James literally changed the trajectory of the Body of Christ. Rather, than being a called-out assembly who act as a ruling council in the earth, they have become an insular conclave of people who huddle in dedicated buildings propped up by sectarian ideas and operational structures through which they defend their beliefs, fight each other and look for ways to survive.
So, I have been sharing the ekklesia/church switcheroo whenever I have had the opportunity. Recently however, my wife and I have been hit with several difficult matters. Each one was painful, difficult to deal with and had the potential of being permanently debilitating. I won’t list them, as it is not my intent to focus on them. There are those who may read this and know of some of these matters, but I pray that you see me moving forward with integrity and grace.
It was about a week ago I mentioned to my wife that these things, seeming to all come at the same time, appeared to me to be more distractions rather than destruction. On the surface, what we are dealing with could happen to anyone. But when they all come within a matter of months, weeks and days of each other, it triggered something in my spirit.
"...what we often think is an attack against us, is in fact an attack on our mission and message"
Whenever you or I begin to move accurately towards God’s purpose, we need to become alert to the tricks of the enemy. If we allow Him to divert our attention from our mission, he can potential destroy or delay God’s work in us. I believe that what we often think is an attack against us, is in fact an attack on our mission and message.
The Gospel of the Kingdom and the understanding of our identity as the Lord’s ekklesia are both critical in this season. I suspect that the devil will use any tactic including family issues, personal health, catastrophic loss, and even religious presuppositions to intimidate and discourage those preaching God’s purposes.
Is it a roadblock or a giant?
In the past, I have taught there is a clear difference between a ‘roadblock’ and a ‘giant’. A roadblock is an inanimate object. It is designed to keep you from taking a particular road.
It can be the loss of a job or being abandoned by allies. It can be a missed opportunity, or being sabotaged by those who don’t like you or your message. A roadblock is not there to keep you from your destination. It only alerts you that a different path needs to be taken.
A giant is a living being. Giants try to intimidate you by both their size and verbal taunts. They shout at you. They mock your abilities. They threaten you. And, they brag on their size and strength. Giants cannot be negotiated with. They must be destroyed. Giants usually appear at the door of your ‘promised land’.
Of all the issues I’ve personally faced, I have identified most of them as giants. Their appearance has challenged my courage, my strength, and tried to make me second guess my actions. But I am clear in my message and purpose - and I will not be deterred.
As of this writing, all my recent issues have not all been resolved. However, I am resolved to press ahead in Jesus Name! I take this personal. I stand on the words of the Psalmist “The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles” (Psalms 34:17).
I am encouraged! Are you? I have written this blog to encourage you. There is greatness in you. Don’t let roadblocks or giants keep you from your destiny! Press forward. The victory is ours! TLK
The discussion surrounding ekklesia and church can be confusing. Many still believe that the word ‘church’ is the English word that was translated from the Greek word, ekklesia. At one time, I was among that group. Now the facts are coming out. But the question remains among most believers, "What is the difference between church and ekklesia?"
Ekklesia and church are not the same – in definition or purpose. The word ‘church’ in the bible, specifically the King James Version, is a willful mistranslation of ekklesia. This fact bears repeating over and over again. Church and ekklesia are not the same.
As believers come to grips with this truth, it will force a change in the way we function as a called-out body of believers. You cannot be both. You will be one or the other. This is more than the differences in definition, but includes a new reality for nearly every aspect of Christianity.
God intended a called-out body of believers who would enact and enforce the Kingdom of Heaven policies into the earth
The bottom line is that we are not, and should have never become churches. That is not what Jesus intended. That is not what He said a Caesarea Philippi (even though I imagine your bible uses the word church). God intended a called-out body of believers who would enact and enforce Kingdom of Heaven policies into the earth.
Rather than delving into the literal definitions of ekklesia and church, I believe it is appropriate to visit and contrast some of the practical differences of these two words. This understanding will show you how you can potentially live out ekklesia in your day to day life. In my book, Leaving Church Becoming Ekklesia, I provide a graph that contrasts fourteen specific areas. How does ‘the church’ generally view each area, and how is the same area expressed in the ekklesia.
In this blog I will highlight four of these comparisons.
1. Jesus Christ In the church system, Jesus is often portrayed in light of the organizations doctrinal distinction. Denominations have often made Jesus appear to support their beliefs, causing unbelievers to stay away. On the other hand, the only access into the ekklesia
is by confessing that Jesus is the Christ, Son of the Living God. This is accepting Him for who He is, not who we want Him to be (1Corinthians 15:1-8).
2. Scripture The chapters and verses were added to scripture in the 13th and 14th centuries. Whereas this makes it easy for us
to find certain passages, it has also created a problem where scriptures are often quoted out of context. Verses are used to drive religious points of view, or worse, to assassinate the character of someone. This is unchallenged behavior in the church realm. As we embrace ekklesia, scripture MUST only be applied to further the Kingdom of God in the earth. Context is critical in order to ascertain what the Lord is saying to us.
3. Word of God Why do I separate the concept of scripture usuage and the Word of God? With scripture, I emphasize how we manipulate it to prove our beliefs. When I speak of the Word of God, I am reflecting on our response to what we read. Some may see this as semantics, but allow me to explain. In the church, most believers are content with being hearer’s of the Word. They hear it, and it goes no further. In the ekklesia, believers are continually looking for ways to DO the word. In other words, “How do I live out what I see in scripture?” 4. Doctrine Linked extremely close to scripture usage, and tied closely to our response to the Word of God, is how doctrine is applied. The first century believers only knew the Doctrines of Christ (Hebrews 6:1-3), and generally followed the apostles doctrine (Acts 2:42). Ultimately it was often reported that the believers were of one heart, and one soul (Acts 2:44-46; 4:32; 5:12). Yet, they were only divided by geography, not doctrine. Today, scriptures have been cut and pasted together to form doctrinal distinctions that have divided the Body Christ into thousands of denominations. It is imperative that the ekklesia return to the values in the Word of God, where the power of God is demonstrated through everyday believers. Otherwise, it too will be reduced to another fruitless denomination.
I hope these four categories I’ve shared will help you to see that there is difference between church and ekklesia. Other categories you may want to compare between church and ekklesia include evangelism, prayer, ministry gifts, leadership, how we gather, buildings, giving among other categories you may interject.
A friend of mine recently shared that we are on the verge a reformation that could eclipse the reformation of the 16th century. If he is correct, and I tend to believe he is, then everything we know about ‘church’ will be challenged. TLK
Gradually, the conversation is beginning to escalate. Yes, there is still some confusion, and apprehension, and of course some excitement. The bottom line is - people are talking. And that’s a good thing.
Last week I received a text from a friend who shared with me a video of a brother in Nigeria. He was teaching about ekklesia. I was deeply moved by what I heard. He covered the subject very well.
The most amazing thing came near the end of his video. He shared that he had come across a website that had encouraged him, as it confirmed much of what he was preparing to teach. That website is the one that this blog is found, The Ekklesia Center.
I can't express how much that blessed me. Since then, I have reached out to this brother, and prayerfully we may be able to connect in person, in the future.
With this being said, I would like to share his video with you – not because he mentioned my website, but because he has something to say on this subject. I pray it will help you to see that people really are talking. I believe this brother, Adeyemo Temidayo will be a significant voice as the Holy Spirit highlights ekklesia in the earth.
Take a few minutes to watch this video, and then gather with other believers to keep the conversation going. Blessings. TLK
Persecution forced the first century believers to carry the gospel beyond Jerusalem. I pray we won't be forced to expand the Kingdom the same way.
And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles (Acts 8:1).
Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word (Acts 8:4).
This past week my wife and I had a gathering at our home where we encouraged those, who were developing similar gatherings in their homes. Our fellowship is transitioning from a traditional ‘church’ system, into a network of house gatherings. In the midst of this, our understanding of ekklesia is maturing.
Transitioning from an institutional church model into a network of house gatherings isn’t as easy as some may believe. It requires teaching, prayer, work, and more teaching, prayer and work.
In the process, you must be willing to endure and learn how to overcome a seemingly endless barrage of disappointments, discouragements and downright opposition. But if God has given you clear marching orders, then victory is assured if you don’t give up. Trust me, I know, because we are making the transition, but I can honestly say that we are enjoying the journey.
...the church will be entirely different in values and structure within the next ten years
In chapter three of my book, Leaving Church Becoming Ekklesia, I write that the church as we know it is in transition. I believe the church will be entirely different in values and structure within the next ten years.
It took persecution for the believers to carry the gospel beyond the limits of Jerusalem. Right now we have a window of opportunity to make this transition without major interference. I try not to be a gloom and doom writer, but I would be remiss if I did not share what I believe we will face in the future. I believe those who prepare themselves for what is coming will generally be unscathed. Below, I have listed nine areas that will help us to re-evaluate what we do.
1. There will be increased communication to the masses through electronic media.
With the click of a mouse, you can find anything that you want to support what you believe. This barrage of information will challenge doctrinal stances of many church systems.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears (2 Timothy 4:3).
This is evident more now than it ever has been. People are being lured into ‘feel good’ doctrines of devils that appease the soul and flesh, but destroys the spirit. Religious and denominational systems are finding it hard to keep up. People are leaving to pursue what they consider more progres-
sive theology’. The challenge to the Body of Christ is to maintain a holy standard found solely in Jesus Christ.
2. Loyalty to denominational systems will diminish. There was a time when people held their denominational affiliation as a badge of honor. However, as people are becoming more exposed to religious teachings through television and the internet, the loyalty to denominational structures will diminish.
The ‘non-denominational’ title has become much more accepted in mainstream Christianity. Moreover, according to a report by the Pew Forum in 2012, an increasing number of people declare they have no religious affiliation at all. Ironically, many of these people consider themselves spiritual. Another study found more Christians are leaving ‘church systems’ but not their faith and relationship with Christ.
The pressure on existing church systems is to find innovative ways to maintain their organization. Unfortunately, some of these cross the line into secular philosophies.
3. Time constraints will force church systems to re-evaluate when and how to meet
Sunday morning is the magic hour for the majority of Christians. Unfortunately, studies are showing that fewer people are getting up on Sunday to go to church. Instead, they are going to a myriad of programs, events and activities. No longer are people feeling guilty for doing other things on Sunday mornings. To compete, churches are resorting to event and entertainment based services to try and draw people into their buildings. This is creating a Christian populace who are soulishly entertained, but spiritually anemic.
4. The age demographic of the church will change dramatically. The millennials and Generation Xers are proving that the current church system has little or no appeal to them. It is more and more common to meet 18 to 30 year old’s who have never set foot in a church building. This demographic wants authenticity. This is the age group that has the power to carry the message of the Kingdom with more zeal and power than those of us who fit the category of baby boomers.
It was this age group that made up the majority of the twelve disciples of Jesus. Yet it is this age demographic we are at the most risk of losing. For this group, you don’t have to dumb down the gospel. You simply need to teach it to them and turn them loose to live it out on the streets.
5. Iconic national church leaders will be disappearing
I believe the hierarchal church system gave birth to the iconic church leaders. These greater than life individuals have massive followings, as people chase after their variety of gospel. They have become untouchable, godlike characters who usually go uncorrected in doctrinal error. They justify the indulgences of the flesh as God’s blessings. They often preach psycho-theological messages that lack the ability to produce real transformation in the lives of sinners. In fact, some who follow them are just a comfortable in their sin, as they were before they joined them.
Age and unfortunately scandals are gradually eliminating some of these individuals. Over the last few years, I have watched as embarrassing battles have broken out over who has the right to take over a mega-church leaders position after their death. We all know of scandals that have destroyed some national and regional leaders, and their ministries. I don’t believe these individuals will be replaced. The Lord’s focus is on the Body of Believers doing the work of ministry.
6. Giving habits will change. You cannot find ‘Building Funds’ in the New Testament. Yet, about 22% of money donated goes to maintain and expand buildings. You have to twist scripture to justify the salary system found in most churches. But nearly 50% of church budgets go for salaries. The maintenance of programs and events absorb a large portion of many ‘church’ budgets. This equates to about 15% of money that is donated.
Mission budgets, specifically foreign missions, are set up to give people the sense that their giving is helping the less fortunate. However, one report I read stated that Protestants give an average of two cents to missions for every dollar donated. You can easily check this out for yourself. Here is one link. http://www.messagemissions.com/mission-statistics/
The ‘bottom line’ in most church budgets is being challenged. People are becoming more disillusioned with giving to maintain a system, rather than meet legitimate needs in their community and the world. I believe these giving patterns will begin to fuel the coming reformation wherein the saints will be released to do the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12).
7. The ‘institutional church’ will face increasing hostility from government sponsored laws.
The 501c3 status of the church will be greatly curtailed or eliminated in the coming years. The church system as we know it has not positioned itself to be a voice of the Kingdom. I am saddened by church leaders who follow political rhetoric more than Christ. Of course they claim Christ endorses there position, but the reality is that Jesus Christ will not allow Himself to be pigeon holed into a particular political party. Jesus is not and will never be Republican or Democrat, or any other political party. He is King. He rules a kingdom that is greater than all earthly systems (Daniel 7:14).
Because the church has played footsies with world systems, there are emerging world entities who see no problem in attempting to eliminate the church in all spheres of society. It’s not because the church has had such a righteous voice, but rather because it has made itself irrelevant by trying to fit into a world that is hostile to anything of God.
The laws of the land will arise to silence the institution, but the voice of the Kingdom will arise through those who can’t be swayed by worldly threats (Acts 4:19; Hebrews 13:6)
8. New groups will arise that will challenge the churches position on social matters.
Report after report has shown that the primary reason young people join gangs is for a sense of identity and family. Right, wrong or indifferent, gangs meet a need that causes a person to disregard everything else in order to belong. Why do raise this example? Because like gangs, known for being outside of the law, they still are able to draw young people out of society. Likewise, there are ungodly groups (pagans, cult religions, new age practitioners), who are providing responses to needs in some communities. The result is that people are attracted to those who are meeting their heart felt needs.
Jesus said that our righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees (Matthew 5:20). The Pharisees had some level of recognizable righteousness, but it did not meet the true needs of the people. As believers, we must minister to the total need of mankind – in body, soul and spirit. We must meet natural needs without judgment. We must walk with those in need of emotional healing stemming from the hurts and rejection of the world. And we must maintain a redemptive flow with everything we do.
9. There will be blending of Christian and worldly concepts
In recent years there has been collaborations of Christian and secular artist on the music projects. Of course, the Christians involved are proclaiming this will reach more souls. As a Christian and a musician, I respectfully disagree. This practice will usher in worldly philosophies similar to the pagan infiltration in the fourth century..
As a musician, I know that these collaborations are motivated by the financial bottom line. Everybody is getting paid. The artists may be friends, but believe me, before they sing a note, everyone involved will know how much they are getting paid for the deal. That the reality.
As a Christian, I have four things that concern me. First, I have yet to see any of the secular artist make a confession of Jesus Christ as their Lord - then submit themselves to being discipled - and make an effort to live a life that exemplify repentance (Matthew 3:8; 2Corinthians 7:10). Instead, they continue to produce music that deifies sex, immorality, drugs and violence, and should they win a Grammy for it, they “thank the man upstairs” for his blessings. They continue to imply that God blesses sin.
Second, the Christian artist loses their witness before the world. Yes, they may remain popular in Christian circles, but they become just another artist to the world. Here’s a thought. Why don’t some of these Christian artist go on tour with the secular artist, where they not only perform, but minister Jesus Christ to those in attendance.
Third, it sends a wrong image of righteousness. This is my greatest concern. It causes people to believe that their favorite rap artist, with all their vulgarity, is now a Christian simply because they recorded with a Christian artist. It creates the ‘I’m okay’ mindset that perverts the gospel. The devil will do anything he can to diminish, invalidate and eliminate the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom in the earth. We play right into his hands when we align with ungodly systems.
Fourth, this has led to unrighteous music being added to worship. I am not talking about styles of music, but rather actual secular lyrics being used as worship. Using the excuse that it draws more people is an affront to the Lord Jesus who said if He was lifted up, all men would be drawn to him (John 12:32)
What Does All This Mean?
I don’t want to paint a gloomy picture and leave it there. However, you cannot know where you are going until you first know where you are. That's why these nine trends that will cause the chuch to change are important. This is the day of the saints. It is the heart of the Lord is to release millions of believers into the earth, to impact every sphere of human existence. This will usher in the shift to becoming the ekklesia.
Jesus gave His ekklesia kingdom authority to bind and lose according to the directives of the Kingdom of Heaven. God wants to use you in this critical season. My prayer is that this post will encourage those of you who are pursuing what I believe is an accurate New Testament model necessary for us to impact the world.
I close by making it clear that I love the Body of Christ. I believe there is a glorious future ahead, and I pray that you are ready for the journey! Are you? TLK
Around the country, more people are beginning to grasp the understanding of ekklesia. I am committed providing ‘all things ekklesia’ to you. It amazes me how so many are writing and proclaiming this message from so many diverse corners in the Body of Christ.
Last week, my friend Russ Wagner posted an interesting blog that I am reposting with his permission. Its unique title caught my attention; A Word is Worth A Thousand Pictures. Obviously, you are familiar with the opposite way this is declared. Russ, cleverly reminds us how the common word ‘church’ has pigeon holed us into a system that Jesus never intended. Enjoy
A Word Is Worth A Thousand Pictures
By Russ Wagner
A word is worth a thousand pictures. Yes, I know I said that wrong. Usually we say, "A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words." But in this case, I want us to think about just one word and the many pictures that are associated with that word in our mind . That word is "CHURCH." When you say the word, "CHURCH" what images come into your mind? My mind instantly goes back to a little cross-road-town in Northeast Indiana. When I say the word "CHURCH" I picture the Country Church where my family first met Jesus in 1954. I have very pleasant memories of Godly Sunday School teachers who sacrificed their lives to teach me, as a child, the truth of God's Word. I clearly see in my mind the picture of a fiery evangelist standing in the pulpit and preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I see lost souls bending low at the alter and getting right with God. I see myself, standing in that very same pulpit, ninteen years later, to preach the Sunday Morning Sermon as their Pastor. These are all wonderful memories...wonderful pictures in my mind. But what if these pictures are not at all what Jesus meant when He said, "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18 NKJV) What if He really did not say He would build His "CHURCH?" Well, I can tell you with absolute certainty that He did not say, "I will build My Church." What He did say is, "I will build my EKKLESIA." What is that you ask? Is that not the word from where we get our word "Church?" Actually, it is not. Our English word "Church" comes from another Greek word, "Kuriakon," and it means, "the Lord's" or belonging to The Lord. This word is used only twice in the New Testament: 1.) In I Corinthians 11:20 where it refers to "the Lord's Supper."Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord's Supper." 2.) In Revelation 1:10 where it refers to "the Lord's Day.""I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as a trumpet." In both cases it is used as an adjective to describe the owner of the "supper" and the "day." i.e.: The Supper and the Day belong to the Lord. It is not until the 4th Century, during the reign of Constantine in the Roman Empire (306-337 A.D.), when Christians began to take over formerly Pagan Temples and use them as meeting places that we begin to see the word "Kuriakon Oikos," which translated means "The Lord's House." As Christians moved into buildings to use as places of worship of their God, they dedicated those buildings to the Lord. Thus, they became, "The Lord's House." In German the word is KIRCHE, in Anglo-Saxon the word is CIRCE, and in Middle English the word is CHIRCHE. In Modern English we say CHURCH. But that is not what Jesus said He would build! That is what we have built! If you look up the word, "CHURCH" in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary You will find it is:
a building for public and especially Christian Worship
the clergy or officialdom of a religious body
often capitalized; a: body or organization of religious Believers as: the whole body of Christians b: a denomination <the Presbyterian Church> c: congregation.
a public divine worship <goes to Church every Sunday>the clerical profession <considered the Church as a possible career.>
These dictionary definitions accurately describe what we all have come to know, love, and cherish as the "CHURCH" that we attend. But once again, this is not what Jesus said He would build! This is what we have built! Jesus did not say, upon this rock I will build my "Kuriakon Oikos"....the Lord's House. He said, "I will build my EKKLESIA." So what does, EKKLESIA actually mean? Stay tuned to this Blog and we will discover together what Jesus said He would build. By the time this study is over, we may want to develop some new pictures in our mind.
About Our Guest Blogger
From 1972 to 2001 Russ was a Pastor and Church Planter. He started 7 churches in Washington, California, Indiana, and Colorado. From 2001 to 2013 Russ trained and coached Christian Leaders in "start-up" ministries. Though he is often seen with his head in the clouds, his feet are always firmly planted on the ground. He can be found most weekends playing on their lake or fishing with his eight grandchildren. Currently, he is leading a nationwide sales and customer service team here in the U.S.A. for an offshore website design and development team based in India. He is also leading KIng of kings, a fellowship of believers in Columbia City, Indiana. For more information: https://omegakingdomministry.blogspot.com/2017/08/a-word-is-worth-thousand-pictures.html
Oops! I would have loved to have seen the look on my friends face when he realized what he had accidently posted.
Every weekday morning I do a live teaching on Facebook where I greet those who join me online with “Good Morning, Ekklesia!”
Many of those watching chime in by posting the same greeting. Well, on this particular morning, my friend used his speech recognition tool to say, "Good Morning, Ekklesia". However, the system did not understand what he said and transcribed his words as the now infamous, “Good Morning Sex Lesea!” He tried everything he could to delete this mistake, but it was too late. It showed up in the post. Everybody could see. I had the opportunity to speak with my friend later, and as embarrassing as it was for him, we both had a great laugh.
This funny little incident helped me to realize an important fact. Many people can say the word, ekklesia, but have no idea of its core meaning. Thus, there is the potential of confusion and misunderstanding around this important truth.
In Judges 12, there is an interesting story of how the Gileadites exposed their enemies. When they were approached by someone they suspected was an Ephraimite, they asked them to perform one simple task. They required them to say ‘Shibboleth’. The Ephraimite would respond and say, “Sibboleth”, because ‘he could not frame to pronounce it right’ (Judges 12:5-6).
The word ekklesia is being highlighted by the Holy Spirit in this season. Like many truths the Lord releases into the earth, it will be filtered through human religious systems. The result will be a cacophony of definitions that will swirl around the Body of Christ. Many will say the word ekklesia, and potentially be as incorrect as my friends Facebook post. Many will not be able to articulate it right. They will say the word, but be void of understanding its meaning.
As I’ve written about and discussed ekklesia with several people, I’ve been able to identify six different categories of people that each have a specific response to the mention of ekklesia.
The Newbies This category of people have never heard the word ekklesia. Therefore, it has little or no meaning to them. When you bring it up, they give you the deer-in-the-headlight look. They will give you a blank smile, and go ahead and ‘do church’ as they always understood.
The Rejectors These are people who simply reject the need for any study on the word. To them, ekklesia is the Greek word for church – end of subject. Those who reject anything that violates their ‘religious presuppositions’ will be considered a fringe belief at best, or heresy at the worst. They are the heresy hunters who feel it is their call to ‘defend the faith’ against any new revelation that violate their religious traditions.
The Thinkers This group will analyze ekklesia as a concept. They will talk about it, research it, teach it from a pro or con platform, and that will be the extent of their involvement. Ekklesia to them is intellectual, not revelatory.
The ‘Wait and See’Crowd There are always those who will stand back and wait to see which way the wind blows. They take no opinion, but rather position themselves to ‘go with the flow’, where ever the flow goes.
The ‘New Fad Crowd’ The Athenians were known as those who had nothing better to do than look for the latest thing (Acts 17:21). Some will gravitate to any teaching about ekklesia simply because it is the latest thing to catch their attention. When something else new catches their attention, they will abandon ekklesia for it.
The Doers Ironically, this group has traits of the previous four categories of people I listed. However, unlike the Newbies who are irresponsive, they become like the Bereans in Thessalonica who ‘searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so’ (Acts 17:11) Rather than reject what they hear, they maintain a healthy apprehension. They are thinkers. The assess what they already know with what they are learning. They stop short of being among the ‘wait and see’ crowd. Instead they are cautious in their forward movement. They sense an excitement as they learn more about ekklesia. For them it isn’t a fad – it is a permanent new way of life. The greatest attribute of this category of believers is that they are willing to step out in faith.
You may see this list differently. Or you may want to add or subtract from my list. It is possible that you may find yourself identifying with one of these categories. Share your thoughts with us. We can learn from each other.
The purpose of The Ekklesia Blog is to provide a place to discuss ‘all things ekklesia’.
The purpose of The Ekklesia Blog is to provide a place to discuss ‘all things ekklesia’. I look forward to reviewing some of the great books I’ve read on the subject, and being able to interview those who are writing and teaching on this subject.
From time to time, I will repost (with permission) articles and blogs from other writers regarding ekklesia. Of course, I have my views on ekklesia, but will openly admit that I don’t know it all. I will state however, that I am comfortable with what I know, and I will be sharing it. I will be releasing a new blog each week, and posting other information throughout the week.
I pray you will do all the necessary things to stay up-to-date. Be a subscriber, connect to the RSS feed, like us on Facebook, share this post, check out many of the great free resources and books that are available on this page and our website. And of course, read and respond to this and future blogs.
The bottom line is I want you to grow. I want you to be effective in the Kingdom of our Lord. Therefore, I pray that you will grasp what the Lord is doing in this season, and when someone says ekklesia to you – you will be able to say the right thing! TLK
The horrible events in Charlottesville, Virginia this past week have captivated the national conversation. I watch as many posture to boldly denounce racism.
I join in denouncing white supremacy, the KKK, neo-Nazi’s, the Arians and their hate mongering. However, my real focus in this post is the response of the ‘church’ to their vitriol.
First, I applaud the ‘churches’ in Charlottesville who locked arms to protest and denounce the racism. I applaud those who have spoken out from their pulpits around the country. But I had to ask myself, “Why does it seem we are always reacting to these events?” Shouldn’t we be at the forefront of confronting these issues?
Think of what Jesus declared at Caesarea Philippi, “Upon this rock I will build my ekklesia, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” He further committed to giving the keys of the Kingdom to His ekklesia, and conferring the authority to declare what is lawful or unlawful on earth, based on what had already been declared as such in the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 16:13-19). Racism is unlawful.
Throughout the Book of Acts, we see an ekklesia literally turning the world they lived in upside down (Acts 17:6). The economy of cities was disrupted (Acts 16:19-20). And demonically influenced businesses were shut down (Acts 19:24-28). The reality is, we don’t see the contemporary ‘church’ having anywhere close to the impact of the first century believers. Why is that?
I believe it is because the Believers in the first century understood they were becoming what Jesus had declared they should be – His ekklesia. Today, as a result being hi-
jacked in the fourth century and a willful 16th century mistranslation, the ekklesia Jesus said He would build became the ‘church’ instead. And no, ekklesia and church are not the same thing. The switch from ekklesia to church completely changed the trajectory of the Body of Christ. It went from impact to impotence; from power to programs; and from evangelizing to entertaining. The ‘church’ has become an institution too often focused on survival rather than souls.
Jesus said that any kingdom, city or house divided against itself cannot stand (Matthew 12:25). The ’church’ as we know it is deeply divided. It is divided by denomination, by doctrine, by ideology, by what is, or is not sin, by culture and, in a country where 11 a.m. Sunday morning is considered the most segregated hour in the nation - the church is sadly divided by race. The church is divided by the very thing they are verbally fighting. Let that sink in. Can a racially divided church convince the world that racism is wrong?
"...how can you fight something that you are comfortable living with, within your own institution?"
Any one of these divisive categories has the ability to weaken the church’s capacity to impact world systems. But how can you fight something that you are comfortable
living with, within your own institution? This systemic division greatly hampers the expansion of the Kingdom of God in the earth. A divided ‘church’ has no hope against the onslaught of Hades influence.
Jesus never intended for His ekklesia (not church), to be so segmented. As long as this division exists, the ‘church’ will only be superficial in its ability to have lasting impact against the kind of evil witnessed in Charlottesville. A divided ‘church’ will not be able to reclaim our families, neighborhoods, cities, states, country and beyond.
Understand who we are. We are the ekklesia. That is what Jesus declared He would build. We were purchased by His blood (Acts 20:28). We represent the pillar and ground of the truth (1Timothy 3:15). We make the wisdom of God known to principalities and powers (Ephesians 3:10). Once we thoroughly understand our mandate to bind and loose from the authority Jesus has given, He promises that the Gates of Hades will not prevail against us (Matthew 16:18).
Whereas the reactionary attempts of church unity are plausible, true effect will only be accomplished when believers embrace their true identity – the ekklesia. There will be tangible impact when ‘church’ systems lay down their religious agendas and embrace kingdom values. The forces of darkness will be compelled to retreat when the Body of Christ – the ekklesia – declares all demonic assignments to be unlawful in the earth. I believe we are fast approaching that day. Are you ready? TLK
There is a growing number of believers who are becoming uncomfortable with church as we know it. Their dissatisfaction is often discussed in secret. They fear being ostracized, ridiculed and considered heretical, simply because the 'church system' no longer appeals to them.
Recent research by the Pew Research Center found that one-in-five adults have no religious affilication. They labeled these people as 'nones'. Similarly, Dr. Josh Packard published a book that reveals a growing category of 'DONES' emerging. These are people who are done with the 'church' but not their faith in Jesus Christ.
I have 'pastored' for over a quarter of a century. The people I have served are in my opinion, some of the greatest on earth. They allow me to pursue God without restricting me to perform 'church' stuff just to appease their religious appetitites. They are mature and strong in their faith. They too have the same inert desired to become all that the Lord Jesus has called them to be.
In my journey, my view of the 'church' as we know it has changed. The main reason is that I can't find much of what we do today in practice or principle in the bible. It seems as though we just do stuff for the sake of doing it. It feels as though we spend more time protecting and maintaining a system, than we do reaching the lost.
The most powerful thing I have discoverd is that the 'church system' as we know it, was built on a shaky foundation. When I found that the Greek word ekklesia was willfully mistranslated to church, my view of the 'church' as we know it shifted. Ekklesia is what Jesus said He would build. Church is what man substituted. Ekklesia and church are miles apart in principle, practice and history.
We Love Jesus, but...
Too often it has been assumed that those of us who are becoming uncomfortable with the ‘traditional church’, have somehow lost our relationship with Jesus Christ. That is so far from the truth. The more I seek His face, the less I see the form and format of the church, as we know it. I love Jesus, but question the 'church system' and its effect on the Body of Christ.
Don't assume that those who are troubled with the 'church system' are lacking in their relationship with Jesus Christ. We have not abandoned our faith.
Is this the Great Falling Away?
Another assumption is to label those leaving the 'church system' as proof of the Great Falling Away (1Timothy 4:1; 2Thessalonians 2:3). I disagree.
Those leaving religious systems are not leaving their faith. In fact, many have been quoted as saying they found Jesus after they left the 'church'. I know some will not like to hear this, but often religious systems are a hinderance to developing a true relationship with Jesus Christ.
Revisit first century Christianity
I challenged those who I fellowship with to re-read the book of Acts. In it, you will read that people were healed – but there were no ‘healing services’. There was prophecy – but there were no ‘prophetic services’. People were delivered from demonic attack – but there were no ‘deliverance services’. Think about it, since when does a devil schedule themselves to be cast out?
The first century believers lived life and through Jesus Christ and turned their world upside down. They were the ekklesia that Jesus declared He would build. They gathered from house to house, they were governed by elders, they were empowered by five-fold ministers, but they were never contained in a religious system.
The building plans have been distorted for hundreds of years by man-made systems. However, since the Reformation, God has been restoring what had been hijacked by institutional churchianity.
Re-reading the book of Acts will start you on a path to discovering the Lord's ekklesia. Programs and events will have less attraction, and the desire to make a difference will begin to emerge.
Declare your love for Jesus Christ
Jesus said to "...love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.(Mark 12:30-31).
First, I encourage you to pray over the current state of the ‘church’. Remember, 'churches' are filled with good people who are confined in a man-made system. Their eyes can only be opened by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:15-23)
Second, discover your purpose in the Kingdom. You have unique gifts that will benefit the Body of Christ. Seek ways to serve among believers (1Corinthians 12:7)
Third, gather with other believers to address needs and issues around you. Remember, you were given authority to collectively bind and loose on earth, what has been bound and loosed in heaven (Matthew 16:17-19).
I believe that Jesus Christ is still committed to building what He said He would - His ekklesia; His powerful ruling council that possess the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. He is building with believers like you who have the revelation that He is the Christ, Son of the Living God! TLK
Tim Kurtz is the founder of The Ekklesia Center developed to help believers desiring to pursue New Testament values and structure. He teaches extensively on what the impact the mistranslation of the Greek word ekklesia to the English word church has had on the Body of Christ. He has served in numerous capacities in the 'church system' including being a Pastor for over 25 years. He is the author of several books and the primary contributor to the EKKLESIAInsights Blog. Tim is also the host of Good Morning Ekklesia, broadcast live on Facebook. In these daily Study Starters he provides key information that believers can use to study ekklesia deeper. He and his wife Carolyn have been married 46 years and live in Michigan. They have two adult children, eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.