Thursday, July 28, 2005

What Makes Church?

Before I go too far into this, let's get our priorities right, maybe with a very loose paraphrase of I Corinthians 13:

If a fellowship group happens to excel in all the points that I bring up in this and coming blog entries, if they are the model of the perfect church -- but don't have love: they are no more than a bunch of futile idealists.

On the other hand, if a church is so ingrained in all the traditional ways that the building and pulpit are looked on as icons of holiness; their cannon of scripture includes Scholfield's Notes; and when Messiah returns, they believe He will actually touch down at their denominational head office; and yet the first thing you notice about them is their sincere fervent love for the Lord and for one another and they would give their lives to extend that love to the world, I'd rather attend that church than the "perfect" one, as that's the one where you'll find Yeshua.

Becoming perfect is not the rout to perfection.

If you really want to know what I feel is most important in a church, here are my eight criteria. They have nothing to do with format, leadership model, authority structure, minor doctrines like eschatology etc, what day of the week they worship etc etc. I believe they are more important than any of the other points we've discussed so far in this blog, or that we will discuss. I'd really advise you to click on the link and read them before going on with this discussion. Yet, I don't know if there is a church that excels in all eight. If I did find such a church, I would stick with that one, no matter what good things could be said about Emergent and/or Messianic etc.

Having said that, I do believe that the quickest way to becoming such a church, one that fulfils the eight criteria, could be discussed under the following five headings:

1. community and relationship
2. authority structure
3. giftings and ministry
4. foundational teaching
5. worship

I hope to discuss these in the next few entries.

However, I suppose this should come with a warning label: I am not, at present, involved in the leadership of a church, let alone an Emergent or Messianic one. I believe that teaching like this should, ideally come up from one's experience. However, I have done church planting in the past. I believe I did a few things right, but I also made mistakes. I've also been involved in the development of various churches, though none of them are what I believe a church could be. I wrote a short autobiography called My Journey So Far for the express purpose of revealing where I'm coming from in what ever I teach or impart.

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