How frequently have you heard the saying, “Don’t go to church, be the church!” It’s a common phrase in Christian media and especially in sermons. Google it.
Problem is, like so many things that are popular in modern religion, it’s unbiblical.
First of all, a church is an assembly. Almost 90% of all uses of ecclesia in the New Testament refer to a group of Christians gathered together in assembly. The rest refer to the Universal Church.
So telling each person to be a church is an impossibility. It’s like commanding each person to be a team.
Second, teaching people “Don’t go to church, be the church” means the teacher must replace the Bible’s own meaning of “church” (i.e., “assembly”) with something he believes better describes what church means than that which is given by God in Scripture. He thus has no business teaching in the church, and should immediately reposition himself to the learner’s seat.
Third, it goes against Scripture. When Paul wrote to the Corinthian Christians,
“when you come together as a church…” (1 Cor. 11:18)
his words mean that when the Corinthian Christians woke up Sunday morning, they weren’t the church. They only became the church when they went to church (1 Cor. 11:17-34).
In other words, “Don’t be the church. Go to church.”