One of the most important problems facing the church in
Why is this important? It is of critical importance because it dramatically affects the functioning of the church today. Because people do not know what the church is supposed to be (according to the bible), then almost any practice not forbidden by the bible is deemed acceptable when the church gathers.
It is not my intention in these posts to delve into the meaning of Greek words such as “ekklesia.” That has been done well in many other places (for treatment of this and many other subjects related to the church, click here).
When we look at the church today, what do we see? I’m afraid that in most cases we see an organization. For example, there is almost always a building that requires a great deal of time and resources; many times the building itself is even referred to as “the church.” Most churches also have a paid pastoral staff that has been hired to do most of the ministry. Service within the church is usually composed of either serving on one of many committees and/or participating in some of the many programs. When the church gathers, people scatter is different directions based upon the needs of the age groupings. Pragmatics tends to rule the day.
When we look in the bible, what do we see of the church? We can learn a great deal from the book of Acts. In particular,
A plain reading of the above two texts shows us just how far we have strayed today from the biblical plan for what the church is supposed to be. Can we return to this model? If so, how?
I’d like to propose a few things that I think/hope will help the church return to its NT roots. Here are three ideas:
1) Those in teaching positions must do two things at the same time. First, they must teach the church what the bible says the church is. Second, they must model this in all their actions. In this way, the people will hear and see the NT church in action.
How is this to be modeled? A key is that those modeling really try to get involved in the lives of other folks at their church. They do not rely on church programs to bring this about, but rather take the initiative to invest their lives in the lives of others. This will show community in action. This will edify the church.
2) Church members should encourage the church to do what it can to take the focus off the “organizational” type qualities of the church. For example, the church should do away with as many committees and programs as is possible. In conjunction with this, the people should be exhorted to practice serving by carrying out the "one-anothers" of scripture. This will cause them to invest in each other, while not depending on an artificial church structure to make this happen.
3) Unity should be stressed to the people as being non-negotiable. This should be taught from scripture on a regular basis. If taught and practiced by the leaders within the church, unity can become a cornerstone of the body. If this happens, then people will strive to understand one another, serve one another, and build one another up. This can only happen if the church is a community.
These are three simple ideas (simple in that they are easily understood; not simple in that not all people in churches today would want to see them happen). Some readers of this blog may say that these ideas are too simplistic and will not happen. I agree that reform is not easy. However, the church in this country is in peril. Something must happen. I believe that if we can get back to a biblical understanding of what the church is, then we will be moving in the right direction. We have to try.
Do you have any ideas? I would like to hear from you. I expect to learn a great deal from these posts based on your comments. Please don’t disappoint me!