In the Bible the word"church" is used to refer to the people of God rather than to a particular building. Christians believe that when they meet together as church, wherever that may be, God is present with them. For Jesus says, in Matthew 18:20,"where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them."

Early Christians often met in people’s homes (see, e.g., 1 Corinthians 16:19), and so do many churches today. Other churches meet in special buildings designed for the purpose, and some Christian traditions treat these buildings themselves as"holy" because they are seen as the place where God meets with his people.

In fact, however, it is not the particular building that is significant but the presence of God’s people. It is the people, not the building, who are described in the New Testament as"holy" and even as God’s"temple" (1 Corinthians 3:17; Ephesians 2:21; 1 Peter 2:5). This is different from the situation in the Old Testament, before Jesus came and made this new kind of relationship possible.