286. “The” Church vs “A” church

286. “The” Church vs “A” church

Many Christians think church should accept everyone. That’s why some don’t understand why we turn away already-Christians when they visit us. Some think that we are being too arrogant or unloving by doing so. But this misunderstanding comes from not distinguishing “the Church” from “a church”.

The Church”, which is the universal body of Christ made of all existing churches in the world, is absolutely and unquestionably for “everyone”. The scripture clearly tells us that Jesus came because he loved “the world” (John 3:16), which is the greek word for all people. That is why, even though Jesus had to be born as a Jew, he made sure his disciples would build churches for all people.

However, “a church” is not for everyone. Think about it. A Korean-speaking church isn’t for everyone. A Spanish-speaking church isn’t for everyone. Not because they are not loving, but because of their inherent linguistic limitation. So, every church is limited in their capacity to reach all people in one way or another. So, recognizing our unique limitation and calling, we have decided to be good at reaching unchurched people through house church ministry.

That is why, we are not afraid to say we are not a church for everyone. Turning away Christians who want to join our church is never fun. But we can ask them to serve other churches because we genuinely believe that there are many great churches out there that can serve their needs we cannot serve.

It is true that we are called to love everyone, even our enemies. However, some people have a too ideal, unattainable idea of love. We are called to “love with discernment” (Philippians 1:9). Love requires proper boundary. I cannot love my church members the same way I love my wife. Jesus purposely limited his public ministry to the people of Israel only (until his death and resurrection). That does not make Jesus an unloving person. He simply discerned his limit as a human being, as he could only be in one place at a time.

Though we have our conviction that house church is the closest form of New Testament church, we know that we are still “a church”, part of a much bigger “the church”. We are not for everyone and that is ok because people have “the church”, which is for everyone.