- ekklesia: this is the Greek word that is most often (115 times) translated church in the New Testament. This word denotes a gathering of people called together for a common purpose.. it could be used for people called to a town hall meeting as well as to a church service. The idea here is that people are called to be together - the emphasis being on the word together. I think that it is sad that some feel that they do not need others in Christ's body. So, the first idea about an ideal church revolves around a sense of being called together. Believers all over the globe, in very diverse ways, are called together to walk out and work out the kingdom together.. it is a beautiful thing.
- koinonia: this Greek word appears twenty times in the New Testament and is translated fellowship twelve of those times. This word takes those people who are called together and gives them a blueprint for walking together. When I think about fellowship I think about people and hearts being knit together in love. I think of how Jesus said that people would know that we are His if we have love for each other. Real fellowship, at it's heart, is living out community in a way that is genuine and unique to that calling to which Christ has called that ekklesia.
- poimen: this Greek word is the one most often translated (17 out of 18 times) shepherd or shepherds. I like this definition of the word:
The tasks of a Near Eastern shepherd were: - to watch for enemies trying to attack the sheep - to defend the sheep from attackers - to heal the wounded and sick sheep - to find and save lost or trapped sheep - to love them, sharing their lives and so earning their trust.
That to me captures the heart of what it means to be a leader in an ekklesia. It also captures the heart of what it means to be a member as well. To be a part of a local church is to be a part of a group of people that shepherd each other, protect each other, speak healing words to each other and simply walk out life together developing love, growing trust and maturing friendship.
mathetes: this is the Greek word that is translated disciple or pupil. I think that a healthy expression of church is one where everyone is discipled. Now this really sounds good to many until they understand that discipleship is not about a program. I think that a church that truly embraces discipleship understands that it is relational.. you disciple me and I disciple you.. it is not all about the pastor teaching me.. it is also about me teaching them as well.
I think that many might say that this kind of a church resembles a club or a clique because I didn't use words like outreach or evangelism. I suggest that these can be manipulative words that are used to squeeze people into preformed images and ideas of what the church should do. I counter by saying that church is not about what we do but who we are.. who we are called to be.. both individually corporately. I also submit to you that a healthy church attracts people who are hurt and wounded.. both passively and intentionally.