Though they sound similar, they are in no way the same!
A religion is simply a system of faith or belief.
A system is defined as ‘an organized set of interrelated ideas or principles’. The key word is organized. It is from the word organize that we derive the word organization. Most churches begin defining the nature of the organization with a corporate charter or bylaws detailing the nature of the organization. This document with a statement of faith - We believe... This document enumerates their core beliefs and/or values and practices. A phrase often included in many church statements of faith or purpose and goes something like this: “The local church is a group of believers organized for the purpose or purposes of… (e.g. evangelism. equipping god's people through preaching and teaching sound doctrine, to promote fellowship, and ... (you may fill in the blanks with your favorite spiritual terminology). the key phrase is "Organized for the purpose of!"
The church that Jesus is building however, is NOT an organization with a mission. Christianity is NOT just another religion ABOUT Jesus but a relationship WITH Jesus! Jesus Christ is NOT just another prophet, sage, philosopher, teacher, rabbi, wise man or spiritual visionary or celestial corporate CEO. He did NOT come to open a window of enlightenment or to teach us about the ways to God. He was NOT some spiritual guru who came to teach us the deeper truths about God.
As mind blowing as it may seem, Jesus said of himself:
I AM the door!
Jesus did NOT come to show or teach us some new way of doing church...
HE IS THE NEW AND LIVING WAY.