What Is Church?

July 9, 2011 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

The brief post that follows has been on my mind for several years. What is church? We have substituted cultural affinities for racial prejudice . We have “Biker Church”, “Equestrian Church”, “Millenial Church”, ad infinitum. We do not display the oneness that our God designed. We have one shepherd seeking to serve multiple thousands that he does not know and never sees. Does this model meet the parameters of the NT norms for church?

Are these assemblies about Jesus Christ, Sin, Salvation and eternal life, or, are they simply another form of self-centered market driven hype?

I for one think these are questions we ought to be asking and investing serious prayer and exegesis to find the answer. Appreciate your thoughts.

Posted: 08 Jul 2011 01:55 PM PDT

There is a fascinating article on multi-campus ministry in the latest Christianity Today. I will not bore readers with too much of my usual shtick about the celebrity/megachurch culture which seems to have engulfed even the Reformed wing of evangelicalism in the last five years. You should read the article for yourselves. I was particularly struck, however, by the comparison of megachurches to Walmart, and the language of branding and entrepreneurialism. All of this seemed most apposite and insightful.

I wonder if we are truly on the verge of an era where smaller churches – where people know each other by name, are known by name by at least one of their elders and have to give sacrificially of their time and money to keep the ship afloat — is coming to an end? Are we at a time when the form of Willow Creek has triumphed even in the midst of, on paper at least, a more orthodox theology?

These are sad days, when the biblical models of church and pastoring are being swept away by the avalanche of numerical success allied to personality cults and corporate values. The Apostle Peter clearly likens pastoring the church to shepherding, connects this shepherding to Christ as the great shepherd and, by implication, to the kind of quality of relationship Christ has with his sheep (1 Pet. 5: 1-5; cf. Jn. 10:14). Can multi-site, out-of state ministries even approximate in the vaguest and most attenuated way to this? Is there even a debate to be had here? Is there a single one of these megachurch outfits that isn’t basically identified with one or maybe two big personalities? Is that not a warning light that something may be amiss? And isn’t it about time that somebody who carries real weight in the young, restless and reformed world spoke out about this kind of ecclesiastical madness? Or are we so steeped in the celebrity/corporate/megachuch culture and so mesmerisied by numbers that nobody sees the problems any more?

(From Reformation 21 BLOG, July 8, 2011)

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