Jollyblogger [David Wayne](http://jollyblogger.typepad.com/jollyblogger/2005/11/the_church_as_a.html) has an excellent article up on what it means to be the church. He’s arguing against Evangelical pollster George Barma’s understanding in the book Revolution, where Barma promotes the idea that “the church” consists primarily of the universal aggregate of individual Christians. Jollyblogger says no. “Church” is not some specialized term that means all the Christians. It refers specifically to localized, committed communities of Christians.
I’m with the Jolly B. on this one. My own addition would be to blame this misunderstanding on overspecialized religious words. It happens all the time. It’s the same problem that we had right before the Reformation, when the common Latin word used to translate the Greek word for “repent” had come to be understood to mean “do penance.” Consequently, everybody was buying indulgences instead of seriously changing their worldviews and actions. In the same way, the Greek word for “church” simply means “gathering.” If they ain’t gathered, they ain’t a church.
However, don’t try to read David’s whole article. You’re liable to get tired. Skim the first half or so, and read the part after all the definitions. When a blogger feels he needs to apologize for boring his reader, it’s a sign that there’s something there he might have done better to leave out, namely long block quotes of definitions. (He’s got five of ’em!) It’s a real shame though. The people he’s quoting are essential to the argument he’s making, but the sheer length of the quotes is insufferable. (Well, they’re a pain, anyway.)
I hope I’m not being a pain for pestering him on this, but he keeps doing this to me! His posts are just too long. But it’s not the long that gets you. It’s the fact that, when a post of his seems particularly long and drawn out, invariably, it’s because half of the post consists of quotes from somebody else. There has *got* to be a way to cite those valuable sources with just a sentence or two and move on to the meat of the argument!
So yeah. Read the Jollyblogger. Great guy. Smart insights. Astute necessity to the evangelical blogosphere. But uh… watch out for the block quotes. They’re like land mines.