Many people look at the word “ekklesia” and only apply that to a Christian congregation that meets on a regular basis in a permanent place. I want to take a look at the concept of “church” and how that applies to RFC. When you look at the definition below that is taken from “The Online Bible” by Larry Pierce you see there are many uses for this term used multiple times 118 times in scripture. He bases his work on Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.
Is RFC the “church”? According to the information below, I would say yes in one sense. We provide a gathering of believers that come together to worship the Lord. However, I would like to caution us in our use of the term church in the context of us being the church for our racers.
I think we should encourage our racing community to be involved in a local church where they can worship, be discipled, instructed, and held accountable. This is not something that we can provide on a weekly basis since we do not see most of our community on a weekly basis.
So why bring this topic up? I believe we need to take seriously the thought that we, as the spiritual leaders, are called to bring this community of believers together as the “church” in some way to worship God while at an event. Does that mean we always have a chapel service? No. It is not always practical to do that, however it does open the door to be creative when looking at how we contemplate the idea of “ekklesia”.
If you grab a race team or a couple believers together to pray with them and over them, can that be a form of ekklesia? I think if we only look at that moment as a prayer over a team then it might fall short of this idea. However, what if we took a few moments with this group to offer a scripture for the day, a devotional thought (very short) or something along that line? That starts to look and feel differently. While it is not a substitute for a chapel service or a church service, it now takes on a whole new meaning to the gathering. A prayer is us lifting them up to the Lord, a few extra seconds spent could take us to a place of worship with a group of believers. It may even change the way you pray over them before they go racing.
Just a thought to challenge you!
I. a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly
A. an assembly of the people convened at the public place of the council for the purpose of deliberating
B. the assembly of the Israelites
C. any gathering or throng of men assembled by chance, tumultuously
D. in a Christian sense
1. an assembly of Christians gathered for worship in a religious meeting
2. a company of Christian, or of those who, hoping for eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, observe their own religious rites, hold their own religious meetings, and manage their own affairs, according to regulations prescribed for the body for order’s sake
3. those who anywhere, in a city, village, constitute such a company and are united into one body
4. the whole body of Christians scattered throughout the earth
5. the assembly of faithful Christians already dead and received into heaven
Understanding the definition of ekklesia (and its alternate spelling ecclesia) is an important component of understanding the church. Ekklesia is a Greek word defined as “a called-out assembly or congregation.” Ekklesia is commonly translated as “church” in the New Testament. For example, Acts 11:26 says that “Barnabas and Saul met with the church [ekklesia]” in Antioch. And in 1 Corinthians 15:9 Paul says that he had persecuted the church [ekklesia] of God.” The “called-out assembly,” then, is a congregation of believers whom God has called out of the world and “into His wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). The Greek ekklesia is the basis for our English words ecclesiastical (“pertaining to the church”) and ecclesiology (“the study of doctrine concerning the church”).
The word in the New Testament was also used to refer to any assembly of people. In his address to the Sanhedrin, Stephen calls the people of Israel “the assembly [ekklesia] in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38). And in Acts 19:39, ekklesia refers to a convening of citizens to discuss legal matters. However, in most contexts, the word ekklesia is used to refer to the people who comprise the New Testament church.
It is important that the church today understand the definition of ekklesia. The church needs to see itself as being “called out” by God. If the church wants to make a difference in the world, it must be different from the world. Salt is different from the food it flavors. God has called the church to be separate from sin (1 Peter 1:16), to embrace fellowship with other believers (Acts 2:42), and to be a light to the world (Matthew 5:14). God has graciously called us unto Himself: “‘Come out from them and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you’” (2 Corinthians 6:17).