Wednesday, May 9, 2007

What Is Church?

What is church?

What should church be? How closely are we supposed to follow the model of the early New Testament church?

The church in Acts is vastly different from the church of today. Yet the first-century church in Acts is also often upheld as a shining example of what and how we are supposed to be.

But is that what God truly intended? Did he want us to try to match them exactly, to copycat what they had done? Or did he expect 2000 years of enormous social, cultural and technological change to form a church of a different type?

From my narrow mindset (Midwestern American middle-class Christian white male... You can't get much more whitebread and narrow-scope than that), I see a lot of churches that have got it wrong, and a lot of churches that seem to have it right.

I see house churches that seem to have it right.

I see house churches that are obviously completely misguided.

I see megachurches that seem to have it right.

I see megachurches that are obviously completely misguided.

Does size matter? Is numerical growth a key indicator of the health and "Godliness" of a church?

What if someday, we learn that we've got it all wrong? What we are doing isn't really what God even had in mind in the first place?

What does God expect of his church?


scott said...

Also something quite interesting here to provoke discussion (or just provoke).

Anonymous said...

the first century church was screwed up too in a lot of ways
when sin plays a part you can guarantee it will be messed up
the interesting thing about the discussion to me concerning the effectiveness of churches and so forth is that the bulk of our discussion is based in the organizational strategies of leading a big group of people - there are many opinions and many different things do work - however it really isnt a spiritual discussion if you ask me - in other words - the discussion is valid because we all want to see the local church be what it is supposed to be but even if we made all the right changes it doesn't guarantee spirituality. I am the first to fight for a good philosophical approach to leadership in order to get a church going in a direction but i do know that there can be fantastic churches that move and grow on the outside without God being involved. I think that solid leadership allows and pushes a church to be what it is - good and bad - and praying the whole time that God will move the way He wants to move - resulting in repentance, conversions and unity. Just some thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Joe B says:
Wow, were we drinking the same coffee? The bulk of the conversation was you saying basically what you said above, then describing your experience of a church finding the way of the spirit. We talked about the spiritual forces>"unwritten rules">liturgies>traditions that move a church, and how church leadership can either be taken captive by them or liberate the church from them. "The Church" is none other than the "called & gathered", people filled with and overflowing with the holy spirit, who assume one mind and action as his will is manifested among them. There are tangible and organizational outworkings of this "primal Church" but, like the ever-aging wineskins of Mk 2:22, that are always in tension with the life of the spirit. Of course we kept reverting to the practical question of "how can we change it for the better?" The answer was "leadership." So then, the leader is the one who breaks the wineskin...who takes the first whack at the pinata?

Anonymous said...

Joe B said...
The sheep carton is hysterically funny. I've plied some old-line New Testament Christian Church guys among us with similar questions, and it's as hilarious with live men as it is with animated sheep. I am right now recalling a D.Div's explanation of the difference between a him and a Baptist. Hee-Hee-Hee. I'm sure I am equally comical when I start to spout words in to one of my blind spots.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

s Joe taking another swipe at me? (haha) I definitely think that good leadership is spiritual however - what I was trying to say was that some of our discussion about organizational structure change doesn't automatically guarantee spiritual growth because there has to be a mystical element (the hand of God) He can choose to strike down the perfect organization - however as you know I am passionate about these changes because I feel I am led by the Holy Spirit to cry out for changes that I do believe will bring about huge spiritual change - I just don't want to be arrogant enough to guarantee it -

Anonymous said...

Joe B said:

You have spoken well!