To many people the word ‘church’ means a large building where Christians meet. To Christians it usually means the place where they meet with other believers to worship God. This may be in a home, a school, a church or under a tree. The word means both a place and a group of believers. It can also mean a much larger grouping of churches, all believing the same things and worshipping in a similar way. There is also a third meaning, when the word refers to all Christian believers.
Jesus first used the word that is translated ‘church’ in Matthew’s gospel, (Matthew 16:18). He used it to describe the gathering of people who believed in him – his followers. The first disciples believed that Jesus was the long-promised Christ and the Son of God. After the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, these disciples – inspired by the Holy Spirit – played a key part in establishing the early church with the community of Jesus’ followers.