This is the most controversial part of our name. Just as there is much confusion about what Baptist means, there is more confusion about what 'church' means. Say 'church' and people will normally think about a building or place—that is not the 'church'. At the same time the name church is given to cults in describing them— they may be a gathering of people, they may be gathered together in a really nice building, but they are not the true church!
To be fair, the Greek word that is translated 'church' in the New Testament is ekklesia (which literally means 'called out ones'), but has been also used to mean a gathering of people, and can literally be used to describe any group of people.
A true church has three defining marks:
- The right handling (preaching/teaching) of the Word of God.
- The right administration of the sacraments (baptism and communion)
- The right application of church discipline.
When we use 'church', it is our desire to identify ourselves as a local gathering of called, elect sons of God that have covenanted together with the purpose of glorifying God through corporate worship, discipleship and accountabilty.