Fields: What’s in a name?

Published 6:30 pm Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Several years ago I heard a preacher encourage his audience to do a homework project. He asked them to go home that night and write a paper on their church. He asked them to write down everything they could find about their church and bring it back the next night of the meeting. The only requirement for the paper was that the Bible be the only source they used for their information.

That is, whatever they wrote about their church had to come out of the Bible. No other source material was to be used.

If you were to write a paper about your church you would naturally start with the name, wouldn’t you? At the top of the paper it might say something like, “The [fill in the blank] church…” Then you would proceed to fill in the information about the church named in the opening line. You wouldn’t write down a page full of information about any organization without naming that organization in the opening remarks.

So think about where you go to church. If you were to take on this assignment, could you even start your paper with the name of the church you attend using only the Bible? You would certainly have a lot of trouble even getting your paper started if your church bares the name of a man that wasn’t even alive when Jesus established his church. You would have similar trouble starting your paper if your church were named for a religious act, like baptism or organizational structure, like presbytery.

Would you be able to find in the Bible where the church was ever referred to under the heading of that religious act or organizational structure? And, if not, how would you even begin to write about it using only the Bible as your source material?

The Bible absolutely does name the church. Actually, the church is designated by a variety of terms in the Bible. They are all significant to the nature of the church that Jesus built. Most commonly, the church is referred to just like that — the church.

The word “church” is translated from a Greek word that means “called out people.” So when you see the word “church” used in connection with other terms, the called out people are being designated by that attached term.

For example, “the churches of Christ greet you” (Romans 16:16). That term, “churches of Christ,” is referring to the called out people that belong to Christ.

I would love for you to try this at home yourself. Then call me so we can get together and go over what you come up with.

You can now watch “Know Your Bible” episodes on YouTube.

Norm Fields is the minister for the Church of Christ Northside meeting at 1101 Hogansville Road in LaGrange. He may be reached at 706-812-9950 or