Scot McKnight proposes three biblical words that lead in different directions –Leitourgia, Ekklesia and Koinonia. I summarize…

1. Leitourgia

That is, church is worship service. The Germans calls this Gottesdienst, and many Americans when they say “church” mean “going to a church building on Sunday morning for a worship and sermon service.” The life that flows from this is individual and in practice tends to feed the consumptive spirit.

2. Ekklesia

Church is gathered on Sunday morning. The central idea here is not just worship but gathering together.
For some in this camp of thinking, “church” is about separation from the world (called out from the world) while for others it moves toward formation and pedagogy. It can become sectarian, but it tends to break down individualism.

Both of the above terms work for the church, but each needs to be bolted into a unit by grabbing the next term.

3. Koinonia

That is, church is a group of people who live with one another through the power of the Spirit under the sign of King Jesus. The central idea is that it is a fellowship of people, who know and love one another and who seek to grow into Christlikeness both personally and corporately with one another, who know and care about one another’s children — to nurture them as they can alongside parents. They also share life’s ordinaries with one another: food and table and wisdom and cars and time and dinners and even holidays.

This idea leads us to see the church as a micro-society inside a larger society (our communities, our cities, our states, our nation). As a society it looks after one another holistically. As koinonia, it must gather; as a Christian koinonia, it must worship; but as a koinonia it knows the others as ones with whom one journeys in this life.

This idea leads us to see the church as a family. The most common word Paul uses for the people of the church is “brothers [and sisters].” That tells a story — the church is a fictive kinship, a new family.

Koinonia churches care more about diversity because they care about one another more than most models of the church. Furthermore, because church is seen here as a koinonia this kind of thinking presses us into crossing borders and boundaries into greater diversity and a deeper embrace of differents.

Individualism comes to an end in this approach to church.

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