What is an Evangelical Church

Churches are the public face of Christianity which we see all around us, whether they are old village chapels, modern buildings with perhaps a cross on the roof, or grand cathedrals. churchShadow1

Their very variety can be confusing, as can what appears to go inside them! This would not have been the case in the past when attending church on Sunday was normal practice for the majority of the population, but today it is very different with many people only going to a church service for perhaps a wedding or funeral.

As with other aspects of religious practice or belief many people’s idea of “church” will therefore be largely formed by how this is portrayed in the national media, which is generally not impartial or particularly sympathetic regarding such things. Churches today are therefore increasingly mysterious places which seem an anachronism in the modern world, fulfilling no useful purpose and populated only by those who perhaps need an emotional crutch to get through life.

To add to the confusion there also seem to be so many different kinds of Christian church (Methodist, Baptist, Charismatic, Church of England - the list goes on and on) which all seem to have their own particular “style.” Some have church services that appear somewhat formal and gloomy, in others the emphasis is on informality populated perhaps by rather over-excited crowds of young people, while in others the services may be conducted by people dressed in gaudy robes following seemingly incomprehensible and pointless rituals.

In light of this we may therefore quite reasonably ask why there are so many differences between churches. After all, if they are all made up of Christians (people who by definition say that they believe the Bible and what it teaches about God and how we should worship) shouldn’t all Christian churches therefore be very similar?

There are many answers that could be given.

Now it is not our place to say what is right or wrong with other churches or the groups (denominations) they belong to. All we can do is briefly explain why Horsley is called an “Evangelical” church and what possibly makes us different from some other churches.

The word “evangel” is from the Greek word specifically used to describe the Bibles teachings about Jesus Christ, in particular those historical records of his life known as the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). “Evangelical” then came to have a slightly wider meaning, referring to a belief that the Bible as a whole is written by God (using human authors), and that as a result it contains all that sinful human beings need to know in order to be forgiven, to live in a way that pleases God, and be assured of one day going to Heaven. “Evangelism” is simply the process of declaring that message, wherever that is done.

However, just like the word “Christian” the term “evangelical” is often used in a very different sense today. Such is the fundamental seriousness and importance of the Christian message preachers especially have often proclaimed it quite passionately, certainly in comparison to the somewhat dry and formal preaching that may be found in some churches, and as a result the word “evangelical” is now often used to simply describe anyone who seeks to zealously propagate some idea with great passion.

bibleIn one sense “evangelical” is just a name – we could just as easily be called Horsley Christian Fellowship or Ockham Road Chapel. We are also not a perfect church, composed as we are of very imperfect people! However we (and the group of churches to which we belong) use the name to make it clear that we don’t just believe in some of what the Bible teaches but that it is true and useful in its entirety.

We believe the Bible alone should therefore govern what we believe, how we should live, and how we should worship God – not historical traditions or the latest trend or idea.

What this means in practice is that the preaching and teaching of the Bible is an important and central part of our church life, whether it’s in a Sunday service or during more informal meetings during the week. We also believe that it’s vital that all Christians make time to read it for themselves each day.

Through the uninformed opinions and ideas posted on the internet or broadcast in the media today, many people now dismiss the Bible’s message because they think it is a work of fiction, perhaps designed to give ecclesiastical authorities power and influence in the past. This sadly means that, although the Bible is one of the most widely published books in the world and many people will own a copy even in the UK, most have never read it or know what it really says. However millions of people down through the ages have found in its pages a message and a power that has transformed their lives, and we would encourage you to do the same.

 

You may be interested in the following quotes concerning the Bible: