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Why We’re All a Little Catholic

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I absolutely love our church. I love the people I see up and down the halls every Sunday morning. I love our staff. I love the nursery workers who care for Caleb every week. I love our Sunday School class that bonds over the Gospel and a collective love for sci-fi movies. It’s the center of our family’s community structure.

Finding a local church home where you can plug in, grow, and serve is extremely important. You can’t be balanced in your spiritual growth without it. But there is a problem I see in American churches and it’s been going on for centuries. We become so comfortable in our street corner churches that we forget the church is more than what we see every Sunday morning.

The Greek word ekklesia is what the New Testament uses to describe the church in the first century. It literally means, “the ones called out.” It’s the same word originally used to describe the Greek republic’s legislative body. When the word appears throughout the New Testament, it isn’t just used to describe the local congregation on the street corner. It’s also used to describe what’s called the “Universal Church.” In Latin, it translates as the “Catholic” Church.

By this, we don’t mean the Roman Catholic Church or the papacy. Rather, we are talking about the universal collection of those who have given their lives over to Christ. Whether you are a part of a local church or not, you are a part of the Universal or “Catholic” Church if you’re a follower of Christ.

While the local churches across the ancient world did function somewhat independently, they also acted in concert with another. Over and over again, we see instances where local churches encouraged each other and made decisions together.

In the first couple of centuries that followed, bishops even rose up as pastors of the pastors to provide guidance to entire regions of the world. While the churches worked independently, the early Christians clearly saw themselves as a part of something bigger.

What if…?

What would it look like if we began to see ourselves this same way in the 21st century? What could happen if dozens, even hundreds of churches banded together in their city to serve their community as one Body? How could things be different if we began opening cross-denominational dialogue to discuss ministry in a post-modern world?

I believe if churches stop competing with one another and begin collaborating to develop community-wide ministry strategies, it could change the way we spread the Gospel. It could exponentially increase our impact if pastors started focusing on building the Kingdom rather than their street corner churches. It could even change the way Christians are seen by the outside world. It’s how the Apostles structured the churches and by all accounts, that’s what it’s supposed to look like today.

You will hear much more from me on this idea in the coming months. For now I ask you to pray for and dream that such unity will be achieved in the church today.

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