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We The Church

• Greg Boyd

The Anabaptists saw that the building is not the Church. God wants to dwell on this Earth, but it is not in a building. It is in his people. In this sermon, Greg shows how we are to demonstrate the beauty of the Church in our lives.

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When Constantine converted to Christianity, he made the official Roman religion Christianity. But, in so doing, he took a lot of the pagan practices that came before this time and made them a part of Christianity. One of these practices was building a large building to honor their god. Before Constantine, Christians met in small, humble homes, and they understood that they were the physical church and not some building. After Constantine, large cathedrals were built to honor Jesus, and the buildings became the house of God.

The Anabaptists understood that the building is not the church. The Greek word for church is ekklesia which means the called out ones. When the Bible talks about the church, they are talking about the people of God and not a building. And even though large buildings inspire awe and beauty, it is really our lives that are to inspire these things.

In Christendom, there was always a special class of people that were the holy ones. These were the priests, monks, and nuns who devoted their lives to being holy. They believed that this type of calling was too great for the masses, and only a select few were to live like this. The masses were to be good citizens while the select few were the holy ones. These communities would create monasteries which would house these people away from the rest of the world. They were to forsake pursuing riches, live simply, and serve the poor. And while a lot of good came from these communities, the entire church is called to live this way, not just a select few.

In fact, the Anabaptists made no distinctions regarding who was to work in the church. It was the rule that only men could be preachers and leaders within the church of that time. However, the Anabaptists made no distinctions when it came to gender. They had many women preachers, including Margret Hottinger. She was a woman who attended Anabaptist bible study, and she eventually felt the call to preach. She began preaching the next day, was arrested and imprisoned for a year. When she was released, she began preaching again and eluded the authorities for three years. When she was caught, they took her out in a boat and drowned her.

Dirk Willems was another example of how we can live a life that shows the beauty of the Church. Dirk was an Anabaptist preacher who was arrested and imprisoned. He was locked in a tower, but one day he escaped. As he was running away, a guard was chasing him. They ran across a frozen body of water where Dirk got across but the guard fell through the ice. Dirk turned around and saved the guard. The guard then re-arrested Dirk and a few days later, Dirk was executed. The self-less giving of his life for another’s life was an example of God’s love for people and how we are to love one another.

At Woodland Hills, we also believe in the Church as a body of believers and not some building. It’s why we didn’t need to build some awe-inspiring building. We also believe that there is no distinction between genders, races, and socioeconomics of people. We believe everyone is called to live out their gifts for God. This is the way that the Church was formed under Jesus, and we aspire to uphold that.

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Topics: Anabaptism, Community, Power, Role of Women

Sermon Series: Kindred

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Focus Scripture:

  • 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

    Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.

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8 thoughts on “We The Church

  1. Joann says:

    The church is a place for sinners, not a museum for saints.

  2. Dave Pritchard says:

    There are a lot of Bible believing “War on Terror” Churches out there today that unfortunately get infected with weirdo “memes” that then proceed to feed their flocks on a steady diet of jingoistic theology which is hype-patriarchal and especially condescending towards women. However, I’m wondering if having a – “Were Gonna Take Back Christianity for Christ” agenda, could potentially be as repugnant and harmful as the “Were Gonna Take Back the Nation for God” (id est – The Church Militant and Triumphant crowd ) The two almost seem cast from the same distasteful worn out mold! I know Boyd wasn’t really saying that the Anabaptist tradition has this peculiar problem but I do think that Stuart Murry is, in his book where he criticizes Anabaptist Separatists who see themselves aloof from the problems of the world. Human psychology being what it is, striking an effective spiritual /social balance, is a challenge for any church.

  3. RAR says:

    The Lutheran reformers said, in the Augsburg confession, that: “The Church is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered.” Nothing about church being a building there, contrary to one line in Greg’s sermon, but rather a clear word that church is the holy people of God. Just saying.

  4. Zoe says:

    Thank you for the follow-up, Greg – your care for us, podrishoners, is truly Heaven-sent! God bless,

  5. Dave Murrin says:

    While I attend your services and respect your teachings I believe you are overlooking modern issues facing Chris1ians in 21st century North America.EG. May a Mennonite business sue to avoid offering health insurance that provides for abortion coverage? Can Mennonite parents be forced to teach same sex unions as part of their schools?Should a Christian be able to express their opinion that same sex marriage should be given the same status as race under the constitution with out fear of being fired from a public sector job?These are a very small sample of the cases I have read. Please address tese issues.

  6. Dave Pritchard says:


    Although I am just a “Podrishoner” and not in anyway a spokesman for WHC, I would like to tackle a few of these “Post-Modern” conundrums with you. There are clearly no easy answers to some of these perplexing issues but rather only Biblical and Scriptural Principles that one can apply to a given context. In the case of “Suing”, It’s best to avoid doing this if at all possible and should be the last resort in any conflict – (1 Cor. 6:1-8). If a Mennonite business is required by law to offer health care coverage to it’s employees, i.e. – “ObamaCare” (which some believe it does) then they should do so. But…..if it’s a Christian organization, as your proposing in this example, then they should obviously work simultaneously to discourage their employees from thinking of “abortion” as a form of “birth-control”. Prayer & counseling support, Bible study, adoption alternatives and housing support for pregnant teens are a few of the things that can be done. If it’s a “Mennonite” business or institution, then a Biblically based sexual responsibility should be implicit it’s day-to-day functioning. Cut out the one-night stands & multiple partner philandering crapola! No Respect – No Sex! (we could get into a huge discussion on this one).

    Anyway, rather than taking a confrontational stand against a “forced governmental insurance compliance” that is in conflict with your pecticular faith, simply work your way around it creatively and come up with alternative solutions. Perhaps offer private insurance deductibles to employees on an opt-in or out basis. Since only .2% of businesses in the US have over 50 employees and don’t already offer any insurance to full-time workers, providing these folks with insurance is the only “employer mandate” actually in ObamaCare.

    As far as “Same Sex Unions” go, I not sure what you are saying here (?) Do you mean “Mennonite Parents” of children who go to public schools or do you mean Mennonite Faith Schools where they are required by State law to teach ‘Sexual Education’ (?) Either way, I don’t see how this is really a problem. If you’re strong in the Faith and you and your kids know Jesus as your Lord and Savor, then sitting through a “Sex Ed Class” where they mention the affectability “Same Sex Unions” in not going to poison or corrupt their minds. (Unless they attempt to go further into bizarre details – which I don’t think is legal). “Sex Education” should always start at home where parents clearly share with their kids what the Bible has to say about our bodies and minds.

    As far as the last one goes I think “context” is everything! If you’re passing out pamphlets at work stating your position on that issue and putting up your ideologies on the billboard in the break room, well then, I think your begging for conflict. If on the other hand, you calmly express yourself to your coworkers (in the right setting) and share you opinions respectfully, then there’s not much legally anyone can do to stop you. But don’t exacerbate conflict! We should always ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?’ And if we have to take a hit for it, from our coworkers & colleagues – then so be it!

  7. Howard Whitehouse says:

    Church is all the individual believers.The church house is where people of common beliefs come together. All non-denominational churches do not believe the same thing.
    We need the Church house to come together to learn, discuss, worship, and reach out to one another locally and throughout the world. Those who share a common ideology are a denomination. Christianity is an ideology that encompases many different life beliefs.

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