What Do You Call Yourself?
What do you call your group? Do you call it a fellowship or a group or a name?
We might say Ekklesia. We might say Church.
And that’s just a description rather than a name. There’s no denominational name or a non-denominational name or anything.
In the sixty years between AD 30 and AD 96 that’s recorded in the Bible in what we call the New Testament, never once in that entire time did the Church have a name. It wasn’t the “Assembly of God.” It wasn’t the “Second Street Baptist” or the “Maple Street Baptist.” Names were never given.
There were descriptions of the Church like, “the Church of God in Corinth.” That wasn’t a title but a description of who they were; because Paul later goes on to call them “the Church of the firstborn ones” or whatever. It’s just a description of God’s Family in a particular place, and sometimes the description changes.
You might have six different pet nicknames for your baby because she’s part of your life and you describe her in certain ways. “She’s my daughter.” “She’s my honey.” “She’s my baby.” Then next time you may call her by her name. She’s part of you, so you describe her in various ways depending on who you’re talking to or what mood you’re in.
In the Bible, the Church has all these different names, but they’re all just descriptions. There was never a title given to any church. We’ve gotten along for twenty years now without having any titles. We didn’t even know years ago that it would turn out this way. We just thought that if they didn’t need a name in the Bible, then why do we need it? Everybody else is doing it, but why do we need it?
If someone asked one of our children, “What’s the name of your Church?” They’d say, “I don’t know.” That’s the only answer any of the children would give. If you asked any of them what the name of their Church is, they would look at you like, “What are you talking about?” (Laughter)
“Where do you attend?” They have no idea how to answer that! “What church are you a part of?” They would say something like, “Well…I have a whole lot of people, more than I can count, who are part of my life and who love Jesus with all their heart.” They would give a description of their life, but there’s no title.
The beauty of that is that we have people from every denomination that’s ever been invented who write to us. They relate to us, ask questions, and we talk and begin to build a relationship. Whatever denomination you want to name, they feel free to do that because they know we’re just Christians. We’re not some competitive denomination that they need to be afraid of.
Baptists basically don’t talk much to Presbyterians or Assembly of God people. Methodists don’t ask many questions of Seventh Day Adventists and Nazarenes. Do you know what I mean? They don’t! They stay in their own little group. Because we’ve never been part of any group, God’s opened doors with every group you can think of to have relationships and interact with them.
How many different groups were represented in those times we had in the Philippines? Many, many were there and none of them cared about that. We weren’t intruding on their denomination because we’re just followers of Jesus. So it was easy for them to get along with us. Even though what we were saying was pretty radical, they knew we weren’t competing with them. We were just trying to love on them.