So what the heck was I trying to say with my little epic in the last post? My hope was to begin laying a foundation that helps us understand where the church began, and where it has come from those beginnings.
For three centuries, these bands of brothers and sisters flocked in informal communities, sharing in common their love, their lives, and their worship of God. For some, the patterns of their lives changed drastically. Paul, for example, went from the up-and-coming Sandhedrin leader (the Sanhedrin was the ruling council of Jewish leaders) helping expose and eliminate "followers of the Way" to one who travelled the known world to share the message. But there were many others, perhaps even the majority, whose normal patterns, their daily comings and goings, didn't change so much, because God didn't call everyone to be like Paul and travel the world for the gospel. For those folks, what changed was how they saw God in those daily patterns, and how the eternal kind of life, the life that is experienced only in obedience to God (note that Jesus' early followers were not followers of a theology, or even followers of Jesus, but followers of the Way--it was a way of life) became their normal experiences as they went to work, raised their kids, and loved their neighbors.
So, for our discussion here, I'm saying that the church is a group of people who are committed to one another in their relationships and are together trying to follow the Way of Jesus in the world.
What else is required to be a church? What is the church's mission; why are we here? Check out future posts!