Question: "What is Ecclesiology?"
Answer: Ecclesiology is the study of the church. The word Ecclesiology comes from two Greek words meaning "assembly" and "word" - combining to mean "the study of the church." The church is the assembly of believers who belong to God. Ecclesiology is crucial to understand God's purpose for believers in the world today. Some important issues in Ecclesiology are:
What is the church? Many people today understand the church to be a building. This is not the biblical understanding of the church. The root meaning of "church" is not that of a building, but of people.
What is the purpose of the church? According to Scripture, the purposes / activities of the church should be: (1) teaching Biblical doctrine, (2) providing a place of fellowship for believers, (3) observing the Lord's supper, and (4) praying.
What is the importance of Christian baptism? According to the Bible, Christian baptism is simply a step of obedience, a public proclamation of one's faith in Christ alone for salvation. While baptism is not required for salvation, it is an act of obedience and faith"evidence that salvation is a reality in a person's life.
What is the importance of the Lord's Supper / Christian Communion? A study of the Lord's Supper is a soul-stirring experience because of the depth of meaning that it portrays. It is an "acted out sermon," remembering our Lord's death and resurrection, and looking to the future for His return in glory.
What does the Bible say about the form of church government? The Bible teaches that church leadership consists of a plurality of elders along with a group of deacons who serve as servants of the church. But it is not contrary to this plurality of elders to have one of these elders serving in the major "pastoral" role.
Ecclesiology helps us to understand the role of the church and our role in the church. It teaches us about the ordinances of the church, how church leadership is to be chosen and structured, and what the church is to be doing in regards to believers (worship and discipleship) and unbelievers (ministry and evangelism). A Biblical understanding of Ecclesiology would go a long way to correct many of the common problems in churches today. Above all, we must understand that the church is the Body of Christ and that each of us has a specific function and role within that body.
A key Scripture on Ecclesiology is Acts 2:42, "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer."