What the Church is Supposed to Be

This is Episode 78 of The Jesus Society Podcast, and today’s podcast is something I’ve been thinking about and working on for a very long time.

Now, before you listen to today’s episode, I highly encourage you to go back and listen to last week’s episode, which is an episode I did early in 2020, but which I re-released last week because it provides some important background for what I’m going to be talking about today. I think this episode will have more impact if you listen to last week’s episode first.

So with that out of the way, the crux of the issue is this: For most of us, when we talk about “the church,” lots of things come to mind. After two thousand years, we’ve all got a lot of history and hangups and baggage wrapped around that word, some of it good, some of it not so good, and some of it that rightfully makes us cringe. A lot of you, like me, have been hurt by church. And that itself creates a fog that’s hard to see through and see past.

And all those things come flooding to the forefront whenever we hear the word “church,” and that prevents us, I think, from understanding the church and seeing the church as intended to be seen.

And yet, the church, as I resolutely maintain, is God’s idea. It’s a good thing. The Bible refers to the church as the bride of Christ (Eph. 5:25-27).

And so the challenge is, how do we understand and talk about the church without all of that other stuff getting in the way? What is the church supposed to be in the world? That’s what I want to try and provide some clarity to today.

Join me today as we discuss:

1. The challenge of talking about the church.

2. The church and the Jesus Society.

3. The struggle to articulate a vision of the church that is true to the biblical picture without the grime and grit that often clouds that picture.

4. Guess who else has been working on this?

5. What kind of communities was the Apostle Paul trying to establish and build in the first century in his Kingdom work throughout the Roman Empire?

6. Descriptor #1 – Jesus-Honoring

7. Descriptor #2 – Edifying

8. Descriptor #3 – Egalitarian

9. Descriptor #4 – Philanthropic

10. Descriptor #5 – Fictive Kinship Groups

11. So what do we do with this in the 21st century?

12. The challenge of holding together the two critical virtues of holiness and unity in the church.

The kinds of Christian communities Paul was creating changed the world.

I think they still can.


As always, we’d appreciate it if you’d tell others about the podcast. If you enjoy the show, please subscribe, rate and review us on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, AND now also on Amazon Music.

Please visit us on our Facebook page for The Jesus Society Podcast (@JesusSocietyPodcast). And check out our NEW website — https://thejesussociety.com/.

And, as we continue to try and grow our audience, we’re currently loading all episodes of The Jesus Society podcast onto YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEy1ppP5RWd3jXPc6bI6WuQ/) and Odysee (https://odysee.com/@TheJesusSocietyPodcast:6). If you search for The Jesus Society Podcast on either YouTube or Odysee, you’ll find us.

And, if you’d like to support the show and our related ministry, click on the “Support TJS” link on the Jesus Society website to find out how (https://thejesussociety.com/).

Thanks for listening!

And remember, you are greatly loved.

Music and audio production by Nathan Longwell Music 


Resources for Today’s Show:

1. The Jesus Society Podcast: “TJS Rewind – Attractive Christianity (Episode 77, November 1, 2021).”

2. “Who Was the Apostle Paul and Why Does He Still Matter?” The Ask N. T. Wright Anything Podcast, Episode 87 (October 14, 2021).

3. N. T. Wright, Paul: A Biography (HarperOne, 2018).

4. Rodney Stark, The Rise of Christianity: A Sociologist Reconsiders History (Princeton University Press, 1996).

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