In the early years of the church, the word most used to define itself was of Greek origin: ecclesia. Literally, its root parts mean, to call out, but it was also originally used to describe a (political) assembly of people. Therefore, the early church was defined as an assembly of people who were called.
This definition of church invites some further questions that I find very Lent-y. (Remember, Lent is our season of the year in which we re-examine our spiritual lives and our practices of living out our spiritual convictions.) Ecclesia invites us to ask questions like this:
1. Who is calling us to be the church?
2. Do you feel called to be part of the church? Are you living into this calling well?
3. To what are we called out? From what?
4. Is the mission of the church to care for and make disciples of its members; to care for the community at large and draw others into discipleship; or some mixture of the two? How are we doing at each? What can we do better? And, what can you do to aid these missions?
5. In what way is the church a political assembly?
Of course, I have some answers of my own to these questions, but what would be the fun of sharing them here? Instead, let’s start some conversations. Share them with your coffee group, your small group, and/or your supper club. Invite a pastor to coffee to talk about them. And, by all means, wrestle with them in prayer. May God call us out and assemble us together through our Lenten journey.