The Church is...

"The two Hebrew words for "assembly" are not quite the same. Qehillah focuses on the event of experience with God. 'Edah focuses on the unity of the whole people God appoints. We found that ekklesia, the Greek word translated "church" is never 'edah, only qehillah. But synagoge can be both qehillah and 'edah...It appears as though the Hebrew idea behind ekklesia is about a "happening", an event, not a place. A church is a gathering event called by God for His purposes. It doesn't appear to be a routine meeting in a particular place with a set agenda. Remember that the verb qahal is first found in the idea of a gathering of soldiers for war. It is the purpose that precipitates the gathering, not the other way around. Church, from a Hebrew perspective, is all about why we come together, not about where we come together...When we point in this direction, we realize that there is an element in the Hebrew idea that is not present in the Greek word ekklesia. 'Edah - the unity of the gathered assembly - is never picked up by the word ekklesia. The event of church does not mean unity. The event is focused on the reason for the event, namely, the call of God. We gather because God calls us to gather, and we gather because He has something to tell us and something for us to do. But that is not the same as being in unity...If we are going to experience 'edah, our gathering cannot focus on the individuals in the group. It must focus on the whole group all together...The "church" is a unity, a single body (remember Paul's language) where every individual fades into the whole, integrated unit, where no single member is any more valuable than any other and where every member is vital to the functioning of the whole. 'Edah is a body without hierarchy, without "professionals", without status-seekers and without individual glorification. It is the one assembly, doing what God commands...In order for the church to also be 'edah, it must belong, not as individuals, but as a whole unit, to God's permanent, covenant family. Let this sink in a bit. The conclusion is shocking. The covenant is not about individuals. I do not have a personal covenant relationship with God. My covenant relationship with God is based in the community as a whole. Furthermore, church as 'edah is not for the non-believer. This is a dagger in the heart of the "seeker-friendly" idea of church. The seeker-friendly church is not a church from the Bible's point of view. It is a meeting of mixed minds and motives. It is equivalent to the crowd who heard Peter preach on the day of Pentecost. He had only one message - Repent! All of the rest of the teaching, training and equipping is for the family of the covenant community, not for the outsiders...There is something more than just proclaiming the good news. There is 'edah, a word that describes the homogenization of the church, the undifferentiated unity of all the pieces. Paul does have a word for this in Greek. That word is "body". A church is not just the called-out ones with a purpose. A church is also the unity of all the individuals in a single body."

Skip Moen, D. Phil.

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