We call ourselves ecclesia because the church is not a place, but a people: a people called to faith, gathered in love, and sent with hope. The word which in our English Bibles is translated “church” is “ecclesia” in the original language. A better translation would have been “congregation.” Literally, ecclesia means “called out ones.”
We chose our name to recover the original sense of the church as a people called, and gathered, and sent. We want to be a people called to faith in the gospel of Jesus, gathered in love as the community of Jesus, and sent with hope on the mission of Jesus.
Although ecclesia is our given name, church at the chip is our nickname. People started calling us that because we meet at the Buffalo Chip Saloon. We’re probably better known by our nickname than our given name. But that’s just fine with us.
ecclesia (church at the chip) meets at the Buffalo Chip Saloon (6811 E Cave Creek Rd) on Sunday mornings at 9:00. Whenever possible, we meet outdoors in the Wagon Camp, so please dress accordingly. (If the weather is bad, we go inside.)
We’re only half joking when we say, “Why not have church in a place where people already like to go?” To us, it seems like the kind of thing Jesus would have done. After all, listen to what Jesus said about himself: “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds” (Matthew 11:19).
In truth, however, we meet at the Chip because they invited us. “I make sinners out of ‘em all week,” the owner says. “The least I can do is let you make saints out of ‘em on Sundays!” We’re grateful for their hospitality, and thankful for the opportunity it offers us to take the good news about Jesus right into the heart of our community.
We’ve been surprised and delighted by the response to our unconventional church. The Arizona Republic, The New York Times, and KTAR NewsRadio have all done stories about Church at the Chip. More important to us, though, is that the Cave Creek community has embraced us as one of their own. We’re thankful and honored.