The Challenge of Being the Church

porpose diving lifeThere are so many differing styles and structures when it comes to the church…from small, traditional, country churches to sleek, multi-site mega churches, and everything in between.

How can we know what God intended the church to be like?  Is there any way to know if the church is doing and prioritizing what God intended it to do in the first place?

This Sunday we’ll look at 2 Tim 4:1-8 (the Message), and we’ll consider Paul’s challenge to Timothy and the church in Ephesus as it applies to us, as 21st century American Christians.

What seem to be the priorities Paul emphasized in these verses?  Is it about doing, or being, or believing…or all of the above? 

Here’s an interesting article from Relevant Magazine that may help facilitate your thinking about this subject.

What are your thoughts on the subject?

4 comments

  1. A very thought provoking question, and likely way above my ability to answer.

    However, it pose this, Can we treat other people we meet and deal with outside of any common four walls we may or may not share with the same mind that is in Christ alway remembering that the Son of Man can to serve and not to be served. And if so, will that or does that mean collectively those who share the same four walls and are like minded will do so as well?

    I believe I have heard it said

    Preach the gospel everyday and when necessary use words

  2. So, I was checking some of your facts against Wikipedia… just kidding 😉

    Rob, you mentioned that the “emergent church” has taken all the old traditions, “thrown them on the floor,” and then just picked up and kept those that are directly from scripture or serve some practical purpose.

    Those things that were left “on the floor” – are they improper, and should never have any place in worship (whether communal or personal)? Or are they merely not required, and we could do them or not according to whim?

    What of the traditions of our community at Eastgate? Scripture says nothing of singing for 30 minutes, drinking coffee for 15, hearing announcements for 10 and a sermon for 30, with 5 minutes left for a closing song and benediction, topped off with rote recitation of a poem, and out the door in time to beat the lunch crowd. Are we not treading close there to “vain repetitions, as the heathens do”? How much ought we vary to avoid mere habit, and how much ought we keep consistent to avoid novelty for its own sake?

  3. Hey Scott!
    Actually, I wasn’t speaking for the “emerging church” at that point; I was describing how OUR church began it’s formulation. Here’s the exact quote ( I found it on Wickipedia 😉 ) :

    “For our little group…we just sort of threw everything we knew about church on the floor, and started picking it back up, piece by piece to examine it in light of the Biblical priorities…and if we couldn’t find a Biblical justification for what we did, or if it had no pragmatic value…if it had no relevance other than tradition…we bailed on it.”

    The point stemmed from my earlier point, about how the NT provides very little in the way of describing the way a church should conduct it’s meetings, what sort of order of service there should be…even down to who’s actually in charge.

    My conclusion was that it’s up for grabs…as long as the right priorities are maintained (for us, the summarized priorities are expressed as “learning to love Jesus, learning to love each other”).
    I also believe there is a huge amount of latitude allowed us in the NT’s silence on the structure of the church, so if one church holds to some tradition that another church bails on…I don’t think that is an important issue, UNLESS it becomes an interference with the mandate of loving Jesus and each other.

    In the process of examining the things that have traditionally been a part of the church, we saw the advancement of the NT priority in each of those things you mentioned (corporate worship, fellowship, teaching, prayer)…the only exception to that would be the liturgical blessing we started saying a few years ago. That was something that came from the Celtic Daily Prayer book, and had a lot of meaning to me…but as with any liturgy, I guess it will run the risk of becoming a rote repetition. Maybe that’s a good reason to start introducing a different blessing now and anon?

    Every group meeting, no matter what it is, will eventually develop patterns and traditions…that’s just endemic to being human. What really matters is what kind of value we place on those traditions. If the traditions we have begin to take on greater value than the people they are meant to serve, then we have a problem. If we begin to love a pattern instead of loving people…then it’s time for a change. But I don’t think there’s any merit to monkeying with what works just to keep everyone off balance. That’s my opinion, of course, something like that may work fine for other groups.

    Anyway…long answer…hope I didn’t kill the conversation with TMI.

  4. I see the scriptural basis for each of those activities. My question was more concerned with the fixed order and schedule – but I take your point about not keeping everyone off balance for no good reason.

    I’m interested in your thoughts about speaking blessings over each other – those of the patriarchs and prophets, the one we use in our services, and what we should expect from them.

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