Literally translated “called out,” it refers to a community of people called out and gathered together around a single purpose.
For the first followers of Jesus, ecclesia was the perfect word to describe their new community. Although members of the Roman empire, they saw themselves as part of a greater kingdom than Rome: they were citizens of the kingdom of God as revealed through Jesus Christ. They had been called by faith in Jesus, gathered into a community of love, and sent into the world with the message of hope: that through faith in Jesus Christ, “the new creation has come: the old is gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor 5:17).
It was these qualities and convictions that allowed this fledgling movement, devoid of money, power and prestige, to dramatically change the world within a few generations. Likewise, these are the qualities and convictions which shape our own fledgling community as we seek to influence the wider Cave Creek area for Christ.
As a community called by faith, ecclesia places a premium on corporate worship and teaching. Contemporary, acoustic worship led by sincere and skillful musicians involve the entire community in heartfelt praise. The most important thing is not the quality of the music on the stage, but rather the sincerity of the congregation’s singing. When we gather for worship, the visitor should observe, “God is really among you!” (1 Cor 14:25).
The Lord’s Table, that great Gospel reminder of God’s grace expressed to us in Jesus Christ, is observed every week by the ecclesia community, thus marking our hearts and shaping our lives as people who belong to Jesus.
Finally, the public reading and teaching of the Scripture is a highlight of each worship gathering. The messages are primarily studies through various books of the Bible. They are true to the meaning of the text and practical to the lives of followers of Jesus, as well as those who are simply exploring Christianity.
As a community gathered in love, ecclesia takes seriously the biblical admonitions to love one another. Realizing that love is impossible without proximity, small groups are at the center of ecclesia’s life together. Because followers of Jesus are called brothers and sisters in the Bible, emphasizing family connectedness, small groups are called Kinship Groups at ecclesia. Groups study the Scriptures, share life together, and serve their neighbors. Or, to put it like Jesus did, they “love God, love one another, and love their neighbors.”
Ecclesia offers an alternative to the loneliness and self-absorption of American culture. Our love for one another is a powerful witness to the world of the redemptive love of Jesus Christ. After all, “By this shall all men know you are my disciples, that you love one another” (John 13:34).
As a community sent with hope, ecclesia recognizes that the church does not exist for itself, it exists for the world. Jesus said to his disciples, “As the Father has sent me, so send I you” (John 20:21). We are called to continue the ministry of Jesus to the world. We are, after all, his Body. We seek to serve the poor as Jesus did. We teach the Gospel like Jesus did. We bring healing and hope, just as Jesus did. We seek to be living witnesses to the reality of Jesus’ resurrection.
Ecclesia, then, seeks to embrace the mission of God for the whole human race. We are called to be witnesses of the resurrected power of Jesus Christ. That includes bringing individual persons to faith in Christ, but it also involves serving people in Jesus’ name, no strings attached, simply as an act of Christ’s love. As God gives us opportunity, ecclesia longs to be a sincere blessing to the community.
Called by faith, Gathered in love, Sent in hope. These are the biblically mandated rhythms and priorities for ecclesia. We have been called together as a community and sent together on mission. By God’s grace, through the power of his Spirit, for Jesus’ sake, let us be faithful. The world needs us! After all, like the first century believers, we are convinced that, that through faith in Jesus Christ, “the new creation has come: the old is gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor 5:17).