What Does It Mean to “Be the Church”?

One of the big changes with the “stay at home” order has been the canceled church services. Without church buildings, there have been many calls to “be the church.” I wanted to explore what that means and what it looks like.

What Does it Mean to "be the church"?

Be the Church Quotes

We will never change the world by going to church. We will only change the world by being the church.–Unknown

When the church is being the church, there is no community that can compare to the church.”  Eric Mason.

“Don’t let a building confine your faith because we will never change the world by just going to church, we need to be the church.”- Unknown.

Don’t just go to church, be the church.”  -Unknown

What is the Church?

These quotes aren’t saying we don’t need to GO to church.  Going to “a church” is essential for our spiritual health and a great privilege. But the building is not “the church.”  It’s the people who meet there to worship God, get spiritual nourishment, pray, praise God, celebrate communion, and share their lives.

As “the church”- the body of Christ- we each have different, yet vital functions.  We bring a complete image of Jesus out into the world when we work together.

Paul reminds us of an important truth: “All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:27 NLT.

Who knows what our church experience is going to look like going forward?  Bringing Jesus to our own world is looking to be even more important!

The Church in the New Testament

You won’t find the word “church” used in the Bible to refer to a building where the new believers met. Instead, it uses the names of the city where the followers lived: the church in Jerusalem, Philippi, Corinth, etc. 

Early believers met in house churches within the cities. Because of the size of the homes in those days, they only accommodated about 15-20 people.

Acts 2 describes the fellowship of the early believers: “They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (v42) They met every day and ate together “with glad and sincere hearts.” (v46).  They encouraged each other and shared what they had with those in need.

The early believers studied Jesus’ teachings, celebrated communion, and had times of prayer.  They expressed joyful praise and showed practical expressions of love by meeting each other’s needs.

While our churches today may look and sound different, these core practices and truths haven’t changed.

Want to learn more about the early church? You may enjoy this post: Lydia of Thyatira

What Does the Bible say about the Church?

Jesus only used the word “church” twice in the gospels.  The first time was in response to Peter’s confession of faith in Jesus as his Savior, the Messiah. Peter boldly declared, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:16 (NIV).

 Jesus responds: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church…” v18 (NIV). The word Jesus used for church refers to those who are “called out.”

Peter’s statement of faith is one all Christians give, and it is what binds us together.  Therefore, as a member of Christ’s body of believers, we too are “called out” as His people.  We are Christ’s church.

We are to live out the Good News of Jesus.  Not only in our homes or within our church building or Bible study or life groups, but our world.

We the Church

The church has always consisted of those who are “called out.”  We are people working together, using our gifts to serve others and live out God’s grace and love.

These are unprecedented times, and it will take a bit of work on our parts to go out and “be the church” when we’re supposed to stay home.

We can live out our mission even though our church buildings are closed.  While I would love to meet with my friends and worship God together, that is not our reality.

I’m so thankful for our online Sunday services!  I can worship, praise, and hear Biblical teaching and encouragement from the comfort of my family room.  There are online sermons, devotions, home activities, and many video call options to stay connected.

Can you imagine trying to navigate this situation without the technology we have in place?

What Does it Mean to "Be the Church"?

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Being the Church

More than ever, we need each other- fear, anxiety, isolation, and loneliness can weigh us down.  We will have to work harder and use our creativity.  But we can still “be the church.” We can show the love, respect, forgiveness, and servant heart of Jesus in so many ways.

Practical Ways to Be the Church

•Support your church staff.

Our pastor shared how lonely it is to be in the church building and how hard it is to preach a sermon to an empty space.  At one point, he even shared how much he missed the “Amens” and interactions with all of us during a sermon.

Encourage your pastor by sending an email/call/card/gift card – let them know how their sermon touched you. 

Let the staff know how much you appreciate all their hard work to make sure we can have programs and online options.

Leave a chalk message on the church sidewalk.  Reach out in any way you can to uplift and encourage them.

•Checking in with your friends and neighbors.

We’re all “shut-ins” at this point!
Pay special attention to those who live alone or are elderly.  Make phone calls, send cards, take the time to talk as you walk the neighborhood.  Offer to pick up something at the store if you’re planning to go out.

Buy some fresh flowers for someone who needs a “pick-me-up” and leave them on their front porch- ring the doorbell or send them a text to alert them. Do the same with jump ropes or chalk for the neighborhood children.  The smallest things can make a big difference!

•Practice Instant Forgiveness.

We’re spending a lot of time together… we’re stressed and maybe a bit irritable.  That can lead to some sharp words and grumpy spirits.  Instead of adding to the stress, take a breath, and instantly forgive.  Respond kindly.  Apologize freely.

•Share Your Wins.

We need to hear the wonderful news that’s out there. What have you found to be a  great pick-me-up, a way to pass the time, a new skill/hobby you’ve mastered? Yes, share it on social media or with friends and family.  It’s a great connection, lifts spirits, and may encourage others to try something new.

  Tell others what lessons you’re learning and the blessings this unexpected lengthy downtime has provided. Ask others to share their wins, too.

Support Small Businesses.

Buy gift cards or use the takeout option to support your favorite restaurant, bakery, or coffee shop.  I found the cutest independent quilt shop to buy fabric for masks with a simple phone call.  When she brought it out to my car, I let her know I’d be back to check out her store.  Not a seamstress?  Ask those who are making masks if you can donate fabric for the cause.

•Support our Essential Workers.

Make a yard/window sign thanking our essential workers.  Call your local fire/police department and ask if they are taking donations of food or gift cards.

Call your local hospital and ask about their needs.  Ours was looking for homemade masks, notes of encouragement, and donations to a charity.  When you are shopping, thank the cashiers for showing up to work.

And most importantly


For all those mentioned above plus those who are ill- at home and in the hospital.  Pray for our nation’s leadership and those searching for answers to deal with this virus.  Pray as you are out for a walk, for the people and homes you pass. Lift up the lonely and the jobless. Pray for teachers who have completely revised the way they can reach their students. Pray for students who miss their teachers, their friends, their birthday parties.

And don’t forget about yourself- pray for wisdom and patience, grace, and rest.

In case you need some encouragement to pray: (bold mine)

“Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray.”  James 5:13 NLT.

“Rejoice in our confident hope.  Be patient in trouble and keep on praying.” Romans 12:12 NLT.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done.” Philippians 4:6 NLT.

Want to boost your prayer life?  You may enjoy this post: Take Time to Pray

We are the Church

We show the love of Jesus when we love and serve others.  Keep your eyes and ears open in your everyday life to those who need his love. When we do this, we are taking the “church” out of the building and bringing it to life in our homes, neighborhoods, communities, and beyond.  While we are living in troubled times, we have unprecedented avenues to reach far and wide to “be the church”.

Blessings of Hope,


Need more practical ideas?  I previously wrote a printable list of ways to show Jesus’ love to others.  Some of them are not practical now due to our stay at home and social distancing status, but there are still plenty that let us “be the church” – Practical Ways to Show the Love of Jesus.

2 thoughts on “What Does It Mean to “Be the Church”?”

  1. This is going to be one of my latest go to verses: “Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble and keep on praying.”
    Good, encouraging post,
    Thanks, Ann

    1. Thanks, Cindy! I did love those verses on prayer too. I need the reminders of how important it is in my life 🙂

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