Church – singular or plural?

I want to propose a subtle revolution: make church plural not singular.
What kind of language do you use when you talk about the church? In the singular or in the plural? North Springfield Baptist Church IS or North Springfield Baptist Church ARE? Do you say “ NSBC HOLDS ITS morning service at 10.30? Or would you say, “ NSBC HOLD THEIR service”, or even better “hold OUR service at 10.30?” Forget grammar for a moment. Do you think of the church as “it” or as “they” – or even better as “us”? For some people, church is IT – just an organisation with a programme. But the heart of church is really “US.” The people! WE are the church.

So I propose the subtle revolution that whenever we speak about a church we deliberately always use the plural, signalling that “the church” is always shorthand for “the people who make up the church”. Even recording minutes of the church as an organisation never “the church has decided” but always “the church have decided”, because it is the members of the church who have joined in reaching that decision. Never “the church is”, always “the church are”. Never “the church does”, always “the church do”.

Peter Thomas July 2013

Reprinted from Peter’s theology, ministry and mission blog at

www.pbthomas.com/thoughts

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