13 June 2013

In the beginning...

We're so far out of our comfort zone as God has called us to start a new church*.  But what does the word "church" mean?

The origin of the word “church” in English comes from (the Old English word "cirice" which comes from the German word "kirche" which comes from) the Greek word “kuriakon” which literally means “house of God”.  It is a purely religious word that had the meaning of “temple” or “chapel”.

The actual Greek word which we translate as "church" is “ekklesia”, which literally is Ek = out of, klesia = call, ie “called out” ones.   In secular Greek thought this referred to a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place.  In the Greek version of the Old Testament (the Septuagint) it was used to translate the "congregation" or "assembly" of God's people for some purpose .  Hence it was used in the New Testament to similarly refer to a people called out/gathered/assembled for a purpose. 

Hence we are calling our "church" the gathering - so people don't say "I'm going to church" (meaning the building) but "I'm going to the gathering" (meaning the group of believers).

*I guess many people will ask "how do you know God has asked you to do this?".  It's a very good question.  It started off with frustration, a dissatisfaction that there must be more, which in our case started after I went to India and was involved in praying for hundreds of people and seeing healing and demons cast out and my wife went to Bethel School of Worship and experienced signs and wonders and a face-to-face encounter with God.  We just couldn't "do" church any more.  A serious accident with a circular saw meant that we were forced to take a break from our (many) church activities and we used this time to seek God.  He gave us a vision of what His purposes were for our town of Witney and in the UK as a whole.  During our time of rest we visited a number of churches in our town and see what He was up to, but it was made (very) clear that none of these were where we were supposed to be (despite offers!)  A number of prophetic words were spoken over us talking of leadership and being on the brink of something new.  We were excited and related this back to our pastor - but it just became clear that none of these prophetic words were going to be fulfilled and there was a deep unsettledness in our spirit.  The comfortable (and cheaper - since our church subsidises our children's schooling) thing to do would have been to stay - but we couldn't go back to how things were - we'd tasted so much more that we'd die if we weren't going after God all out.  So we choose to leave and felt the peace of God over this decision.  It became clear that the only option to pursue what we were called to was to start a new church - but "who are we?" was the question we asked - we're just ordinary people - nothing special - why would God call us to do this?  Maybe we were mad.  Maybe we and those who had given prophetic words had misheard.  The following day we were talking with a parent and she relayed that during her prayer time that morning God had told her that there was going to be a new church starting and they were to join it.  It was the confirmation that we were on the right track - but I'd be lying if I said that we don't regularly have doubts and have to come back to God and check that we've heard right and He patiently reminds us and gives us God-encounters which confirm that we're going the right way.

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