When people find out that I am an ordained minister, they almost always ask, "Do you have a church?"

My usual response is, "I am a part of a community."

What's the difference? Isn't "church" what Jesus established? Wasn't it the Church that He commissioned while on earth?

Well, He launched a movement, and referred to it as His (ecclesia) assembly, family, people. We have translated it to "church," but that word today, as we use it, doesn't come anywhere near to what He had in mind.

THROUGH THE CENTURIES, it has lost its meaning because we apply the word to things other than His called ones. We speak of "going to church" and "supporting the church" and "joining the church."

We build buildings and call them churches. We form denominations and call them church.

In this day, a church is a building. A community is a body of people. A church is a place you visit occasionally. A community is something you are.

A church is used only on special occasions of religious significance. A community is people whose religion lives with them every day in all occasions of life.

A CHURCH HAS A SPECIAL atmosphere of reverence, with stained glass, attractive pews and religious music. A community lives in the din and discord of the world.

A church is served by a clergyman who says prayers, performs duties, presides over our religious gatherings, calls on the ill and bereaved, preaches discourses and accompanies our children on summer outings.

A community is served by a leader who lives with his people as counselor, friend, teacher and comforter. He abides in them, and is a steady sources of strength and peace.

A church is made of lifeless stone and wood. A community is made of living, active believers in Christ. A church is constructed by men to serve their purposes. A community is established by Christ to do His will.

A CHURCH BUILDING MUST be maintained against deterioration by the labor of men. A community is sustained and renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit in the midst of the body.

A church will eventually crumble to ruin. The Body of Christ will be lifted up to Him forever.

I have a friend who believes that if you miss "going to church" on Sunday, God will get mad at you, and won't let you into Heaven.

In His instructions, He simply asked that we be His ecclesia -- community, family, assembly of people.

A church is known by its facility, doctrine, friendliness, pastors ability to preach or lead. A community is known by its love.

Jesus said, "By this shall the world know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." - Jack Boal