General Descriptions of The Church
The Nicene Creed states The Church is “one, holy, catholic and apostolic.”  Other descriptions and distinctions made by theologians through the millennia include: visible and invisible; local and universal; militant and triumphant; organization and organism. Reflection upon these terms is helpful for determining the relationship of the Sports Ministry Movement in general, and as they relate to the specific relationship of the Sport, Recreation and Fitness Ministry of local congregations of The Universal Church.
1. The Church is one, holy, catholic and apostolic
The Church being one, holy, catholic and apostolic means it is united in and through Christ, and even though there are various expressions as evidenced by a myriad of different denominations and worship traditions, The Church is still one, still united as the Body of Christ, and separated from the world in the sense it is “in the world, but not of the world.” Apostolic means the church originated from and was built upon the teaching and lives of the Apostles and current Church leadership should be able to chart its lineage back to the first apostles and to the Biblical mandates for Church leadership.
2. Visible and Invisible
Visible and invisible means those whose faith is clearly proclaimed by their life as they publically emulate Christ and in their associating with a local congregation. Their faith is then affirmed by their words whenever they verbally declare Christ is Lord. The visible Church is how humankind “sees” The Church but it must be understood God sees beyond the outer forms of participating in congregational services and maintaining official memberships. He sees into the heart and He alone knows who really is or is not in The Church. Thus, we speak of the invisible Church which certainly includes most of those who are participating members in a local congregation, but also would include some who are only visible and known to God.
3. Local and Universal
Local and universal means there are assemblies of The Universal Church worshipping and ministering the world over.
4. Militant and Triumphant
Militant and triumphant refers to those yet living on earth who stand and advance as soldiers of Christ (militant), as well as those who have passed from this life and currently exist in heaven with Christ (triumphant). The two will be physically united for all of eternity when God brings about His future consummation, and their temporary separation cannot cause spiritual disconnect as realized each time the militant Church takes part in a Lord’s Supper.
5. Organization and organism
Organization and organism refers to human organized activity in cooperation with the organic work of the Holy Spirit. Humankind organizes and administrates both local congregations and overarching denominations of The Church. The Holy Spirit organically operates to bring those far from Christ into a personal, faithful relationship with Jesus in the fact and reality of “wherever two or more of you gather Christ is in their midst.
 Edmund P. Clownery, the Church (Downers Grove: Inter Varsity Press, 1995), 72. ISBN 0-8308-1534-1
 Ibid., p. 119.
 John 18.36; 1 Peter 2.11f.
 A most poignant example of this concept of the Visible and Invisible Church occurred repeatedly over the course of hundreds of years amidst the turmoil of the Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian and Free Church struggles in Scotland. The most succinct yet helpfully-illuminating summary of this can be found in Chapter 8 of Iain Murray’s significant book: A Scottish Christian Heritage. Iain H. Murry, A Scottish Christian Heritage (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2006), ISBN-13: 978 0 85151 930 2.
 Matthew 18.12.
Next week's blog will summarize a basic Theology of The Church and its local assemblies. Future blogs in this series will discuss issues related to Sports Outreach Ministry, The Church and its local congregations such as: Can participating in sport be considered worship; Lord's Day issues; etc.
This blog is an excerpt from Dr. Linville's yet to be released book. All rights reserved. For any reproduction right, including copying, computer reproduction, etc. contact:
Dr. Greg Linville at CSRM International C/O The World Outreach Center 5350 Broadmoor Circle N. w. Canton, Ohio – USA 44709 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Other blogs and articles on Local Church Sports, sports theology and ethics written by Dr. Greg Linville are archived at: www.csrm.org
Sometimes I'm asked "Why all the Greek and Theology?" Two main reasons: 1) Understanding the Theological and Biblical Foundations are essential to envisioning, planning and implementing a local church Sports Outreach that meets the "4-Fold Evaluative Rubric:" Strategically-Relevant & Efficiently-Effective; and 2) Sports Ministers who know their theology and Bible are granted a respect by their Senior Pastors, Elders and other Church leaders. Too often Sports Ministers are seen only as "pray & play guys." I'm challenging all Sports Ministers to "study to show themselves approved," so local church Sports Outreach can be truly respected and esteemed within the "ecclesiastical world." Are you up to the challenge?