The majority of religious organizations in Charlotte are called churches. Although the word church derives from the German word kirche, which means a church building or organized religion. One blog relates this to the Greek word κυριακός‚ (kuriakos), which means “belonging to the Lord”.
The New Testament word for Church is ἐκκλησία, ekklesia, which means a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place; an assembly or congregation. The word is not necessarily a religious word, but is used of any assembly of people including a legislative assembly. The highlighted meaning of this is that the church is an assembly of people, not a building. Terminology is important because this series of articles is about people and not buildings. Organizations will be examined, but only as they relate to people and make a difference in life. Unless a religious institution has impacted a life for the better, that organization has been a failure.
Other words we will see used for a church are Temple which comes from the Latin word templum (Greek τέμενος) which means to cut as part of a ritual which is accomplished in a building; Synagogue which speaks of an assembly of people; Mosque which is required to have elaborate domes, minarets, and prayer halls is also a building; cathedral comes from the Greek word καθέδρα which means seat, such as a governor or bishop’s seat which speaks of a place of power and in accordance is designed as an elaborate building which points up to God; Sanctuary which comes from the Latin word sanctuarium meaning container (for the holy such as holy people) is a sacred place and can be any place of refuge (including a park or protected area); shul which is a Yiddish word for school; and a shrine which comes from the Latin word scrinium or container is a holy place or a relic.
We will speak of faith communities in the light of being a group of people. A faith community is not limited to a place, rather a faith community is a people. These people can meet in a building; but they can also meet in a park, coffee shop, or in a home. The community of people meets for a purpose: that purpose is for the sharing of faith. We will look at people participating in faith whether for regular worship, study, ministry, or for celebration.
As we look at each community, it is important to realize they are people groups. And each set of people is different. People come with personalities, with likes, with dislikes, with strengths and with weakensses. Some people come to a meeting just to be there and fill space; others come with a purpose.
After 365 looks at communities, hopefully we can better participate in our community, whether a faith community or not; and we can better understand other communities. We will look for the good in people and groups; and we will look at differences and distinctions. If you are not part of a community of faith, hopefully this series of articles can help you find a place where you belong, and a people who will draw out the best from you as an individual.