What is the Church?

Today at our weekly staff meeting, we discussed several quotes from theologians regarding the nature of the church.

I just wanted to post these quotes here for your contemplation. Which quote most speaks to you? Which quote makes you feel most uncomfortable? Are there any quotes that you just simply disagree with?

Let us know in the comments.


“The Church exists by mission, just as a fire exists by burning. Where there is no mission, there is no Church…” —Emil Brunner

“The first-order of business of the church is to be a people who under the guidance of the Spirit point the world to Jesus Christ… I take it to be crucial that Christians must live in a manner that their lives are unintelligible if the God we worship in Jesus Christ does not exist… I believe we are living in a time when Christendom is actually coming to an end. That is an extraordinary transition whose significance for Christian and non-Christian has yet to be understood. But in the very least, it means the church is finally free to be a politic [a distinctive public culture].” —Stanley Hauerwas

“A primary role of Scripture in the church is to bring about the conversion of the imagination.” —Richard Hays

“How is it possible that the gospel should be credible, that people should come to believe that the power which has the last word in human affairs is represented by a man hanging on a cross? I am suggesting that the only answer, the only hermeneutic [means of interpretation] of the gospel, is a congregation of men and women who believe it and live by it.” —Lesslie Newbigin

“The church is a community of Christ’s crucified presence and of Christ’s risen presence.” —Ross Hastings

“[Paul] saw the church as a microcosmos, a little world, not simply as an alternative to the present one, an escapist’s country cottage for those tired of city life, but as the prototype of what was to come… [when] the whole earth [would be filled] with his knowledge and glory, with his justice, peace, and joy. Paul sees each ekklesia as a sign of that future reality.” —N.T. Wright

“The church’s mission is not to be palatable but to be credible: speaking clearly, acting faithfully.” —Michael J. Gorman