Sermon quotes on the church

Theodore Beza

Sire, it belongs in truth to the Church of God, in whose name I speak, to endure blows and not to inflict them.  But it will also please your Majesty to remember that she is an anvil that has worn out many hammers.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The Church is the Church only when it exists for others…not dominating, but helping and serving. It must tell men of every calling what it means to live for Christ, to exist for others.


Dietrich Bonheoffer

Lack of repentance is the root cause of powerlessness in the church, in this materialistic, self-indulgent age. There can be no spiritual power in a non-repentant church.

Matthew Boulton

For Calvin, the church is a gymnasium, a training ground, a school, and community of preparation and practice enrolled (we hope and pray) in God’s sanctifying, transformative paideia.

Life in God: John Calvin, Practical Formation, and the Future of Protestant Theology


Barbara Brown Taylor

The problem is, many of the people in need of saving are in churches, and at least part of what they need saving from is the idea that God sees the world the same way they do.

John Calvin

The church is the gathering of God’s children, where they can be helped and fed like babies and then guided by her motherly care, grow up to manhood in maturity of faith.


Edmund Clowney

When Protestants speak of going to church… they are not thinking of a building but of a congregation. The congregation, not the building is holy… The church is holy because the congregation is the house of God.

Thomas Fuller

Many come to bring their clothes to church rather than themselves.


R. Kent Hughes

On the most elementary level, you do not have to go to church to be a Christian. You do not have to go home to be married either. But in both cases if you do not, you will have a very poor relationship.


Martin Luther

Anyone who is to find Christ must first find the church. How could anyone know where Christ is and what faith is in him unless he knew where his believers are?


Lesslie Newbigin

The Church has outlasted many occupants of Caesar’s throne and will outlast more, for the truth entrusted to her is the truth of God.


Lesslie Newbigin

The primary action of the Church in the world is the action of its members in their daily work.

Eugene Peterson

American religion is conspicuous for its messianically pretentious energy, its embarassingly banal prose, and its impatiently hustling ambition.

Billy Sunday

Hypocrites in the Church? Yes, and in the lodge and at the home. Don’t hunt through the Church for a hypocrite. Go home and look in the mirror. Hypocrites? Yes. See that you make the number one less.

A.W. Tozer

One hundred religious persons knit into a unity by careful organization do not constitute a church any more than eleven dead men make a football team.

Jeff Vanderstelt

The reason the teenagers I worked with were able to make disciples of Jesus was that they believed they were the church. For them, church wasn’t something you go to. Church was something you are.

Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life

William Temple

The church is the only cooperative society in the world that exists for the benefit of its non-members.

Dallas Willard

Churches are not the kingdom of God, but are primary and inevitable expressions, outposts, and instrumentalities of the presence of the kingdom among us.

Renovation of the Heart: Putting On the Character of Christ

Dallas Willard 

This impotence of “systems” is a main reason why Jesus did not send his students out to start governments or even churches as we know them today, which always strongly convey some elements of a human system. They were, instead, to establish beachheads of his person, word, and power in the midst of a failing and futile humanity. They were to bring the presence of the kingdom and its King into every corner of human life simply by fully living in the kingdom with him.

Renovation of the Heart: Putting On the Character of Christ

N.T. Wright 

Jesus’s resurrection is the beginning of God’s new project not to snatch people away from earth to heaven but to colonize earth with the life of heaven. That, after all, is what the Lord’s Prayer is about.” 

Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church

Jonathan Edwards

The creation of the world seems to have been especially for this end, that the eternal Son of God might obtain a spouse towards whom he might fully exercise the infinite benevolence of his nature, and to whom he might, as it were, open and pour forth all that immense fountain of condescension, love, and grace that was in his heart.

 Joseph F. Kelly

Luke had a great insight that changed Christianity. He recognized that the world would not end immediately. Jesus had died a half century before Luke wrote, and he believed that by constantly delaying the Second Coming, God had revealed his true plan, that is, to create the Church.

The Origins of Christmas, Liturgical Press.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The exclusion of the weak and insignificant, the seemingly useless people, from a Christian community may actually mean the exclusion of Christ; in the poor brother Christ is knocking at the door.

Life Together

Josh McDowell 

When it comes to my salvation, all I need is Jesus; after my salvation, everything is Jesus plus the church… When people preach that all you need is Jesus, they cut you and I off from one of the greatest sources of healing, which is the body of Christ. Don’t go it alone – you won’t make it.

Robert Hotchkins 

We ought to attract people to the church quite literally by the fun there is in being a Christian.

Glen Scrivener

Paul’s labors were aimed, almost exclusively, at establishing churches and his writings were intended, almost exclusively, to encourage churches. . . . Solo-Christianity cannot exist. A member of Christ needs to be a member of the church.

Long Story Short: The Bible in 12 Phrases, Christian Focus Publication.

John R. Mott

The missionary activities of the church are the circulation of its blood, which would lose its vital power if it never flowed to the extremities.

John Koessler

The community of believers is no longer a kingdom of priests but a service industry whose primary mission is to provide spiritual goods and services to the masses.

 The Radical Pursuit of Rest: Escaping the Productivity Trap, InterVarsity Press.

Sam Alberry

People don’t enter a church; the church enters a building.

Why Bother with Church? And Other Questions About Why You Need It and Why It Needs You

Sam Alberry

The membership of every local church is no accident; it is by divine design. There is no one there who is a spare part, a third foot, or second nose. There is no one there who is not necessary, or who doesn’t need the rest of their church.

 Why Bother with Church? And Other Questions About Why You Need It and Why It Needs You, Good Book

Stanley Hauerwas

The church is constituted as a new people who have been gathered from the nations to remind the world that we are in fact one people. Gathering, therefore, is an eschatological act as it is the foretaste of the unity of the communion of the saints.”

In Good Company: The Church as Polis. 

Stanley Hauerwas

We would like a church that again asserts that God, not nations, rules the world, that the boundaries of God’s kingdom transcend those of Caesar, and that the main political task of the church is the formation of people who see clearly the cost of discipleship and are willing to pay the price.

 Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony

Clyde Reid

We structure our churches and maintain them so as to shield us from God and to protect us from genuine religious experience…The adult members of churches today rarely raise serious religious questions for fear of revealing their doubts or being thought of as strange.

There is an implicit conspiracy of silence on religious matters in the churches. This conspiracy covers up the fact that the churches do not change lives or influence conduct to any appreciable degree.

Clyde H. Reid, The God Evaders, Harper & Row.

Eugene Peterson

The church is never in so much danger as when it is popular and millions of people are saying “I’m born again, born again, born again.”

Taken from Run with the Horses by Eugene H. Peterson. ©2009, 2019 by Eugene H. Peterson.  Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove  IL  60515-1426.

Richard Dahlstrom

What God is doing requires a symphony, not soloists.

Oscar A. Romero

The church must suffer for speaking the truth, for pointing out sin, for uprooting sin. No one wants to have a sore spot touched, and therefore a society with so many sores twitches when someone has the courage to touch it and say: “You have to treat that. You have to get rid of that. Believe in Christ. Be converted.”

The Violence of Love

Michael Ramsey

We do not know the whole fact of Christ incarnate unless we know his church, and its life as part of his own life. . . . The Body is the fullness of Christ, and the history of the Church and the lives of the saints are acts in the biography of the Messiah.

Glory Descending: Michael Ramsey and His Writings, ed. Douglas Dales et al. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005), 102.

Flannery O’Connor

You have to suffer as much from the church as for it. . . . The only thing that makes the church endurable is that somehow it is the body of Christ, and on this we are fed.

The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor, ed. Sally Fitzgerald (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1979), 90.

Michael Ramsey

Before Christians can say things about what the church ought to be, their first need is to say what the Church is, here and now amid its own failures and the questionings of the bewildered. Looking at it now, with its inconsistencies and perversions and its want of perfection, we must ask what is the real meaning of it just as it is. As the eye gazes upon it, it sees the Passion of Jesus Christ; but the eye of faith sees further: it sees the power of Almighty God.

Glory Descending: Michael Ramsey and His Writings, ed. Douglas Dales et al. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005), 100.

Rowan Williams

The church is a community that exists because something has happened that makes the entire process of self-justification irrelevant. God’s truth and mercy have appeared in concrete form in Jesus and, in his death and resurrection, have worked the transformation that only God can perform, told us what only God can tell us: that he has already dealt with the dreaded consequences of our failure, so that we need not labor anxiously to save ourselves and put ourselves right with God.

Where God Happens: Discovering Christ in One Another, New Seeds Books, 2005, 26.

Leo Durocher

Baseball is like church. Many attend, few understand.

William Temple

The church is the only cooperative society in the world that exists for the benefit of its non-members.

Mark Littleton’s Tales of the Neverending, p. 42ff

Source Unknown

A man was answering questions for a national poll. When asked for his church preference, he responded, “Red brick.”

Vance Havner

Today, much of the church has gone in for theatrics, running a showboat instead of a lifeboat; staging a performance instead of living an experience; having a “form of godliness without the power thereof.”

Augustine of Hippo

All earthly cities are vulnerable. Men build them and men destroy them. At the same time there is the City of God which men did not build and cannot destroy and which is everlasting.

C.S. Lewis

The Church is not a human society of people united by their natural affinities, but the Body of Christ, in which all members, whoever different, must share the common life, complementing and helping one another precisely by their differences.

Letters of C.S. Lewis, 7 December 1950

Joseph McKinney

Anyone can love the ideal church. The challenge is to love the real church.

Leadership, Vol. 6, no. 3

A.T. Pierson

To a true child of God, the invisible bond that unites all believers to Christ is far more tender, and lasting, and precious; and, as we come to recognize and realize that we are all dwelling in one sphere of life in Him, we learn to look on every believer as our brother, in a sense that is infinitely higher than all human relationships. This is the one and only way to bring disciples permanently together. All other plans for promoting the unity of the Church have failed.

Stanley Grenz

According to the New Testament, God wills that the church be a people who show what God is like.

John Calvin

Wherever we see the Word of God purely preached and heard, there a church of God exists, even if it swarms with many faults.

Edmund Clowney

When Protestants speak of going to church… they are not thinking of a building but of a congregation. The congregation, not the building is holy… The church is holy because the congregation is the house of God.

Jay Y. Kim

The church is fundamentally designed and intended for this work—to create spaces and opportunities for people from all walks of life to experience true human flourishing, in real time and real space. Unlike anything else in our culture today, the church can invite people to gather in the flesh and to experience the hope that Jesus Christ offers.

Taken from Analog Church by Jay Y. Kim Copyright (c) 2020 by Jay Y. Kim. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL.

John Updike

In general the churches . . . bore for me the same relation to God that billboards did to Coca-Cola: they promoted thirst without quenching it.

A Month Of Sundays

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

The glory of the gospel is that when the Church is absolutely different from the world, she invariably attracts it. It is then that the world is made to listen to her message, though it may hate it at first.’

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, InterVarsity Press, 1977.

Michael Slaughter and Warren Bird

God’s kingdom is not best represented by franchises of McChurch. If you focus your energies on copying someone else’s methodologies or programs, you will miss something crucially important . . . The Holy Spirit is empowering transformational leaders who demonstrate the kingdom of God in unique ways in each different community.

UnLearning Church: Just When You Thought You Had Church All Figured Out (Loveland, Colo.: Group Publishing, 2002),p.26.

Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson

The wrong question is whether your church is “traditional” or “contemporary” and which is better. The real issue is whether your church is biblically faithful, acting as the presence of Christ in the community at large, able to relate Christ to people in culture, and is on mission.

Comeback Churches: How 300 Churches Turned Around and Yours Can, Too, B&H Books, 2007.

John Climacus

A single wolf, helped by a demon, can trouble an entire flock.

Still Looking for inspiration?

Consider checking out our illustrations page on the Church. 

Follow us on social media: