Church can be defined in several ways. Look in a dictionary and the first definition will likely be “a building used for public Christian worship.” Many people would define church as a religious organisation. The original Greek of the New Testament uses the word ekklesia, which means a called out company or assembly, and this word is used to refer to 1) a local body of believers; 2) the whole body of living believers; and 3) the great body of believers, living and dead, who have followed Christ since the beginning. All of these definitions are correct in their proper context, but for our purpose, which is to define what we are trying to be in the Leopold Uniting Church, I think we must be more specific.
Certainly there is the New Testament ideal in Acts 2:44-47 to use as a standard for comparison, but whilst the Acts model clearly worked very well in its time, it is obvious that it does not translate well to a western capitalist society.
For me, church is genuine when the people are all seeking together to follow the way Jesus taught. This is the only condition. Unity of belief is not required or even desirable; only unity of purpose. In fact, if one is truly seeking to follow Jesus, which is the same as doing the will of G-O-D, which is the same as pursuing self-awareness, then it does not matter if the people believe any of the tenets of the religion or not. As long as they support one another in the journey, they are the church of Jesus.
Read about the birth the church as Pentecost in the next Glossary item.