What is a Church?

A church is a group of Christians, it is not the building.

 
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A church is a group of Christians who have gathered together. 

Groups of Christians who meet together are called churches. There are thousands of churches all over the world. Sometimes people think a church is a building, but it’s not, it’s the group of Christians meeting together.

Although many church buildings are very beautiful and useful, wherever a group of Christians meet together they are the church.

What do Christians mean when they talk about the Universal Church?

Christians believe there is one big Church called the Universal Church. The big Church is made up of all Christians everywhere – it stretches around the world. It is in fact made up of all Christians that are alive now and have ever lived.

 
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Of course it is not possible for all Christians in the Universal Church to meet together.  However,  lots of Christians meet together in smaller groups close to where they live. These groups of Christians are called local churches. All around the world there are thousands and thousands of local churches.

Christians often get together in their local churches on a Sunday because this is the day on which Christians have gathered together for hundreds of years. But Christians get together on other days too.

There are thousands of local churches around the world; there is however one universal Church.

Do Christians always meet together in big groups?

The number of Christians that gather together in a group could be two, four, ten, twenty...

 
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Ask the children why they think Christians might sometimes choose to get together in big groups and other times in small groups.

Ask the children if they have ever been in a group where hundreds of Christians have gathered together. If a child has been in such a group ask them what it was like and what everybody was doing, or talk about an experience you have had.

Ask the children where Christians might meet together in small groups. Point out that Christians don’t have to get together in a church building; they can get together in homes or other buildings too.

Briefly talk about the different opportunities there are in churches for Christians to get together. Children that go to church may only know about the times that they meet  with other Christians.

Why do Christians gather together?

The Bible teaches that God doesn’t want Christians to be on their own. God wants Christians to gather together with one another. The Bible teaches that God wants Christians to gather together to help each other live his way.

 
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The Bible teaches that as the Holy Spirit helps each Christian, they can then help each other learn and grow to live God’s way.

Christians believe God created people so that they would need each other’s help; God created people to work together. Christians believe they need the help of other Christians to live God’s way.

What do Christians do when they gather together?

Christians gather together to help one another live God’s way - to love God and others.  But what do they do when they gather together?

Sometimes Christians help each other by simply doing things together. They show their love for God by worshipping together and their love for others by working in teams to care for people.

 
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Christians feel that singing with other Christians sounds and feels very different from when one person sings to God alone. Christians believe God loves it when people worship him on their own but he also loves it when Christians come together to worship him. Christians help and encourage each other to worship in many different ways,  such as playing different instruments, writing songs etc

Christians work together to help people in many different ways too, such as organising food or clothes banks. Christians believe that an important part of caring for people is telling them about God. Christians love to tell others about God, because they love being close friends with him and they long for others around them to be close friends with him too. Sometimes Christians organise events to either help people, or to tell people more about God. 

Sometimes doing things together means helping in a different way. Some Christians choose to pray for a team or give money, tools or food. All these are important ways that Christians work together to care for people.

Christians also help each through fellowship. ‘Fellowship’ is the word the Bible uses to describe times when Christians teach, challenge, comfort, support and encourage one another. Christians believe that when they spend time together in this way the Holy Spirit works powerfully among them helping each one of them learn and grow to live God’s way.

Summarise by  reminding the children that Christians gather together to help one another live God’s way. Christians help each other by (1)  doing things together and (2) through fellowship.

 

Many Christians believe that during times of fellowship they use the gifts and abilities God has given them. You could talk about the different gifts and abilities described in the Bible. Take a look at Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:8-10,28 and  Ephesians 4:11. How do these gifts help Christians learn and grow to live God’s way?

 

Some of this text is repeated in ‘Why do Christians sing to God?’.

 

What is Agape love?

When parts of the Bible were first written the writers wrote in ancient Greek, and over and over again instead of the word ‘love’ they wrote ‘agape’. ‘Love’ is the right English translation for ‘agape’ but there is an even better way of describing what ‘agape’ means: ‘agape’ means ‘loving somebody in such a way that you put them first and expect nothing in return’.

 
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The Bible teaches that agape love is the sort of love God has for people. He loves people without expecting anything in return – he loves people even if they don’t love him back. Christians believe that agape love is an amazing type of love.

The Bible teaches that Christians should also love with agape love; they should love God and other people the way God loves them. Because Christians believe that agape love comes from God they believe that for a person to really love with agape love God needs to be at work in their lives.

Why do Christians believe it is important that they love one another?

Remind the children that Christians gather together to help one another live God’s way. Christians help each other by (1)  doing things together and (2) through fellowship.

Ask the children to think for a moment what it would be like if Christians who met together didn’t get along with one another.  Now ask them to think what it would be like if Christians who gathered together loved each other with ‘agape’ love, putting each other first and expecting nothing in return.

 
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Christians believe it is important that they love one another so that together they can do things well, and so that the Holy Spirit can work powerfully among them as they fellowship with one another.

In Bible times the Apostle Paul asked God to help the Christians live in unity,  to live in such a way that they get on together. Today Christians believe they can ask God to help them live in unity too so that even when there are differences among them they get on together.

Why does the Bible teach that Christians should be known by their love for one another?

Christians are sometimes called disciples or followers of Jesus. 

The Bible teaches that if people watch Jesus’ disciples carefully they will see that they are loving towards each other and when people see that, they will know that they are Jesus’ followers.

 
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But why are disciples loving towards each other?

A disciple is someone who, with the powerful help of the Holy Spirit, is learning and growing to be more like Jesus - because Jesus is loving, his disciples will learn and grow to be loving too.

What does it mean to Glorify God?

The Bible teaches that God is glorious, which means he is truly wonderful and magnificent and people can rely on him day after day.

Christians believe they glorify God when they show and tell others that he is glorious.

 
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The Bible teaches that there are many ways Christians can glorify God. The Apostle Paul writes that God is glorified when Christians welcome each other in the Church. People who study the Bible believe this is because, when Christians are kind and loving to one another they show that God is at work in their lives; they show that God is working in a wonderful and magnificent way among them – they show that God is glorious.

Why do Christians believe it is important that they don't give up meeting together?

Ask the children to imagine what it must be like for athletes training and training and training. Perhaps they sometimes feel tempted to do something else, maybe they think about stopping...  but they don't give up. They keep on training day after day, week after week. 

 
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The Bible teaches that God wants Christians to keep meeting together and to not give up:  ‘Don't give up meeting together’ says the writer to the Hebrews.

The writer knew that it would not be easy. In fact there were some people who had already stopped. ‘Keep going’, urges the Bible writer, ‘even if it’s not easy it’s important that you keep getting together.’