Thursday, November 10, 2005

What is the Church?

While reading around the various blogs I peruse it is becoming increasing clear that the role of the church is severely misunderstood. The views range from; the Church being a refuge from the world where the people lock themselves up and avoid the world at all costs, a monistic view. The view at the other end of the spectrum is that the only purpose of the Church is to make converts at all cost, even at the cost of the discipleship of those in the Church. In the middle are various levels of combinations of either end.

What I find disconcerting is that in all of this the scripture is used sparingly and when used the focus is on one aspect only and they either ignore or miss all of the other aspects of the Church. The seeker sensitive, driven or whatever you call it Church sought to make the Church palatable to the narcissism of the unbeliever. We now have the Emergent Church that desires to see the church change from all of the fluff of the previous generations Church growth methods, a honorable goal. The problem is that the end result is the same in that the church once again is deemed to do what ever is necessary to attract the unbeliever. So both the old and new methods seek to please those that are not His sheep and scripture says that it is only His sheep that here His voice. Actually John 10:4-5 says that those that are not His sheep will turn and run, at least their hearts will.

So the call should be back to the biblical view of the church and that is trans-cultural just as scripture is. We need to seek to spend more time delivering God’s word plainly rather than trying to see what innovation is required to attract those that truly desire to run the other direction. The goal should be to take the church back to a gathered community of communers rather than a crowd of consumers.

I am still working out how to say all of this as I need to make sure the view I see is Biblical and not purely pragmatic. We need to have a right theology that drives a right practice; Orthodoxy should lead to orthopraxy. Instead of looking for the next wave we need to be looking to God’s word. All too often we spend so much time looking at the worlds practices we miss God’s plain commands of scripture.


RevyRev said...

I think a lot of the local church to parachurch tention is caused by lack of biblically infomed students on the definition of the church. Some have a hard time distinquishing Crusade from church since Crusade is a entreprenurial/missiological/pragmatic movement of campus evangelism. I mean, does that sound like a church?

I don't know who is dropping the ball. "Mature" believers involved in Crusade are not seeing this clearly. Are pragmatic churches not practicing and teaching biblical church? Should Crusade at CalPoly do more to distinguish itself as a sodality? Should Crusade teach church? Maybe if people are part of a vital local church they will not get fussy Crusade is about taking risks in evangelism discipling new believers and not just about them.

Tony said...

I would say that the church in general is not teaching what the church is. This is not to say evangelism will not happen and can not happen in church but is the church as a gathering of believers primary focus evangelism or is it to worship God? I think scripture is clear that its, the church, primary purpose is to worship God and to display His glory. Out of this true worship flows many things which includes but is not limited to evangelism.

Now I am sure some think this is being anti-evangelistic but my view is that it is true evangelism. If one can not worship God as God deserves they can not deliver the Gospel as it deserves. I struggle with how to say this all without sounding anti-evangelistic. If the church returns to its role as designed and commanded by God then evangelism will be as God desires it to be. If a non-believer walked into a church truly worshipping God they would see something they can see no where else. God can then use this to open eyes and hearts as He desires to do so. In true worship the Gospel is delivered over and over and hearts are being continually changed either to see God or in the process of sanctification.

RevyRev said...

"...the church, primary purpose is to worship God and to display His glory. Out of this true worship flows many things which includes but is not limited to evangelism."

I agree, well said.

I love your definition of sanctification as the gospel being further embraced and comprehended in the hearts and minds of christians. And i wonder if it is a lack of such worship that hinders a vibrant and healthy expression of evangelism in the church or expressed through a parachurch or on universities. If that is going to happen many churches will need to reform.