What is a church?


A church is an assembly of baptized believers joined by a covenant of discipline and witness who meet together regularly under the preaching of the Word of God.

If you stopped people on the street and asked them what a church is, most of them would answer something like, “It’s a building with a cross on top where Christians meet together.” And if you did an image search on the web for “church,” what do you think you’d get? A bunch of pictures of buildings with crosses on top of them!

But when the Bible talks about a church, it’s not talking about a building with a cross on top – it’s talking about the group of people that meets inside that building! In fact, the meeting thing is the most important part of that last sentence. One of the words the Bible uses for the church actually means an “assembly:” a group of people gathered, or assembled, together. A church isn’t a church if its people don’t meet together.

But a church isn’t just an assembly of any group of people. If that were the case, your baseball team would count as a church! No, a church is an assembly of believers. Can you guess what these believers believe? Why, the good news about Jesus, of course! To put it simply, a church is a group of Christians who meet together – not to play baseball but to worship God!

When a church assembles, they sing songs of worship about who God is. They sing songs of praise for what he’s done. They learn about God by reading his God-breathed Word. And they listen to preaching, where someone explains a bit of the Bible to them, then challenges them to believe what God says and do what he commands his people to do. The gatherings of the church are centered around our God and his God-Breathed Word!

The church isn’t an assembly that gathers once. They meet together regularly, week after week. The Bible and church history tell us that the earliest Christians gathered on Sundays. They called it the “Lord’s Day” because it was the day the Lord Jesus rose from the dead.

In Hebrews 10:24-25, we see the writer encourage the people of the church to “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another.” One of the reasons church members gather is so that they can encourage each other to obey God. And that can’t happen if they are scattered all over the place – it requires the people to assemble!

Church members are also baptized, washed in water in the name of God. Baptism is a special activity that identifies someone as a believer. We’ll talk more about what that means in a few questions.

The people of a church are also “joined by a covenant of discipline and witness,” as the answer above tells us. Let me put it a little more simply. A church is a group of people who agree on the big ideas that the Bible teaches and encourage each other to obey the commands God has given us in his word.

The Bible uses a couple of different words to give us a picture of how a church should work. Sometimes, the church is called “the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:27). Each church member works together like the different parts of our body to help build God’s kingdom by sharing the gospel and making disciples. Individual church members are like the eyes, nose, ears, and big toes of the body. And as our leader, Jesus is the “head” of the church.

Other times, the church is compared to a family (1 Tim. 5:21). The men of the church are like our uncles and brothers and the women, like our aunts and sisters. Just as a family works together and takes care of each other, a church should do the same!


+ Does the answer to this question describe your church? Why or why not?

+ In what way does your church feel like a body or a family? What part do you play in the “body of Christ?”


Matt. 18:20; Acts 2:42

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