Thursday, 29 November 2007

What is church?

I've been thinking a bit lately about what is church? Church is a lot more than what we do on a Sunday, however, for this post I will be looking at a church serves. What should it look like? I’ve heard it said that church is people. However, I think it’s more than just a bunch of people. Church its fist and foremost about God- what he has done to call people back to himself thought the blood of Christ. It is a gathering of a community of the people of God- the people he has redeemed not by human effort, but by the cross. Therefore God needs to be in the centre of our view of church.

In Acts 2 42 it says that “they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” It goes on to talk about everyone being filled with awe, miracles being done amount them, sheering all their positions with each other, meting daily in the temple and regularly in people’s homes and gave praise to God. Now, this is by no means the only verse in the Bible which talks about church, but there is enough in there to help us to think about how we “do church.” If that was about my church, what would it say?

Something along the lines of “they meet once a week for about an hour where they sing a few songs and listen to someone talk, and some of them hang around afterwards to chat. There was prayer ministry available, to those who wanted it- but that was generally only two or three people. Some people would meet weekly for a cell group and sometimes there would be social events.” Okay, maybe that a little cyclical, but the point is that most churches today look more like this model than the biblical one of Acts 2. Some churches might have communion more regularly or have more liturgies and other stuff, but again, not like the acts two model.

In saying that, we also have to remember that this verse is taking about a particular church in a particle context. We can’t simple say that all churches everywhere most follow this exactly. However, that it does give us some basic elements which should bake us gatherings of belies: fellowship, teaching, prayer and the braking of bead as all important elements of a Christian community.

So, what would my ideal Sunday church series look like? His is still a work in progress, but here’s what I have so far. Let’s make it an evening service, cos that’s what I go to. I would have a shared meal every week before the service. Why? To build community. At CU we would go to Courtney central every week after the meeting for dinner and that make a massive impact in the community at CU.

Dinner would be followed by a “community act of worship”. This could be sing, but it could also be a number of other things such as community, liturgy, reflecting on a psalm or reading the Bible allowed together. While music is a great was to worship God, it is not the only way. In some churches the service is all about the music. However, it fails to recognise that a lot of people don’t like music, and while the Bible does call us to sing praise to God, it is not meant to be the cornerstone of our worship, Jesus is.

After that, would be teaching. Often the teaching in a particular church is geared towards one level. In some churches, the teaching is basic, so while great for seekers, new believes and younger people, offers no meat for mature Christians. Likewise, some churches offer teaching which is great for mature Christians, but not so great for others. Possibly a model where there are different levels of teaching offered in the one services would be good, by having say three smaller group- more like small groups studies than a traditional sermon in church. This would also mean that the groups could prayer as a group afterwards. However, this also has some issues. It would ultimately need three ministers (or shepherds :)) to make it work properly. It could also to lowering standard of teaching overall and to some groups feeling superior or inferior to others. So weather this is a good idea or not is something I will need to mall over more.

I also need to think about how prayer, mission and communion fit into this, so more still to think about. However, I do think that churches to easy sip into adopting a model of series which says the same for years. Thinking about how we “do church” is healthy, but ultimately, we need to remember that the bible is our guide and should the ultimate authority we think about these things.


Nathanael Baker said...

Hey Nathan, if you really seriously want to look at church in todays cultural context I can recommend a couple of good books, they are "Exiles" by Michael Frost and "The Forgotten ways" also there is a post that I wrote with my mate Mike Brantley from the states about a year ago you should look at - it is

If you want to email and discuss any Ideas thoughts you have, please do. Anyway, god bless, hope to see you around my next of the woods sometime soon.

Huggies said...

Friendly suggestion: yo Nathan. I would find your posts sooooo much easier to read if you put in a few line breaks every now and again.

Like this...

And this :)

just a suggestion...