Does capitalization of the word "church" matter, or is it more of a personal preference?

It is obvious why the Bible or Christian is capitalized; they are proper names. A lowercase bible may refer to a reference book, manual, or textbook. Christian is capitalized, presumably because it is a proper name for follower of Christ.

4 Answers 4


The Church is referred to as the "Bride of Christ" throughout the NT. It's capitalization simply reflects it's status as a proper noun, subject to capitalization.


You would use Church (with capital C) when refering to a specific church like: Grace Lutheran Church or Calvary Baptist Church. Or if you refer to the Gathering Jesus started, which we now use to call Church. However, when you say something like Last sunday I went to church you wouldn't need a capital.

So mainly if you refer to the building or institute church there is no capital and if you refer to the Gathering of people in Christ you use Church with a capital.


We are dealing here with two different rules for capitalization. One is about sanctity, like Christians capitalizing "He" when it refers to Christ. The other is the one we learned as little kids about the capitalization of proper nouns, like capitalizing "the Amazon River" but not "the river." Going by the first rule, a Catholic might write "the Church" or even "The Church" when referring to the Roman Catholic Church but not when referring to the Anglican one, but an Anglican might do the opposite. It seems divisive to me, the old "My Church is true and yours is false" which has led to so much bloodshed (and which is basically unChristian.) But by the second rule, if the word refers to a particular person, place, or thing, then it's capitalized. Thus, if I were to write, "She was a devout Methodist, and her work in the Church was at the center of her life," this is correct regardless of what one's own denomination is, simply because the word refers to a particular institution, the Methodist Church.


The people who answered are on the right track - that is to say not incorrect, but I wanted to expand just a bit.
The capital C Church is used in a title like First Baptist Church of Chicago, or Grace Church of Atlanta, and also in names of recognized denominations, such as Church of God. But another very common practice is "big C Church" used in the context of the universal body of Christ - all over the world - the entire collective group of saints.
For example "The Church is the bride of Christ, and the rapture is a picture of the wedding." For centuries the Church has connected the number 3 with the Trinity and the number 7 with perfection and completeness." "One of the clearest signs that Christ gave of end times is apostasy and false teachers in the Church."
When referring to local congregations, the word church is usually not capitalized. Again- these are examples only- "The church in Corinth was predominantly Jewish after 50 AD." "The first church in Plymouth Rock was founded by Puritans from Holland". "Our church has the Lord's supper once every month."

This is a widespread convention that Christians use and understand in English speaking cultures around the world - Ireland, England, USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, as well as by many English speaking people of other countries.

I was a leader in an international church in Poland, and was in contact with foreign pastors from Denmark, Poland, Ireland, Holland, England and New Zealand and this is a widely used practice.

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