What is the Curch? (Part 2)

(cont’d from here)

5.  Unified by the Spirit

THE LOCAL CHURCH SHOULD BE UNIFIED BY THE SPIRIT AROUND THE CORE CENTRAL BIBLICAL DOCTRINES.  This does not mean we agree about everything, but means that we agree to disagree agreeably.  Distinguish between core central doctrines worth fighting over (ie: inerrancy and authority of Scripture, bodily resurrection of Christ, penal substitionary atonement) – closed hand; and will discuss/debate but not fight/split over doctrines which are peripheral (ie: style of music, style of building, etc) – open hand.

6.  Church Discipline

Are there Biblically-based policies in place for actual, functional, practical church discipline of the church members? If the Word of God is preached, and it is shown in communion, THEN IT IS DEFENDED THROUGH DISCIPLINE.

7.  Obey the Great Commandment to Love:

THE CHURCH MEMBERS SHOULD LOVE ONE ANOTHER, DOING LIFE TOGETHER WITH A SPIRIT-LED GENEROSITY.  If you are not seeing that, you don’t have a giving problem, you have a gospel problem.  The goal is not to emphasise service, but the gospel that Jesus is a generous giver and that we are stewards of His generosity and we want to be good stewards:  to be loving givers of finance, time, possessions and serving one another. GOD DOES NOT GIVE TO INCREASE OUR STANDARD OF LIVING BUT INCREASE OUR STANDARD OF GIVING.  Love in the Bible is not just sentimental and what people feel, it is efficacious and what they do because God has demonstrated His love for us.  How can we facilitate this?  His church has a social network site for church members where they can advertise needs i.e: single mum looking for car.

8.  Obey the Great Commission to Evangelise and Make Disciples

The church exists to reach the nations.  Jesus says many times in John’s gospel that the Father has sent him.  John 20:21 As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.  As you go, make disciple of all the nations.  THE GOAL IS TO SEE PEOPLE MEET JESUS.  TO SEE THEM ENJOY REGENERATION, TO SEE THEM FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT, TO SEE THEM BECOME DISCIPLE-MAKING-DISCIPLES.  THIS IS THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH.  But people will want to change that, make it a safe place for there family, a political place for social issues, an open place for those with emotional baggage, these “single issue” missions may not be bad, but they are not PRIMARY.  If they become primary, then that church becomes an idolatrous community pursuing that which was not commanded by Jesus.

How does this Church function?

The church is GATHERED and SCATTERED.  If a church is only a gathering church, everything (services, events, classes) happens at the church building – “they spiritually eat a lot but don’t exercise spiritually”.  If a church is only a scattered church, it doesn’t function as the church, no preaching, sacrament, sound doctrine. These two groups usually argue with each other ie: Emergent (liberal) guys vs Mega church guys.

The church is both ATTRACTIONAL and MISSIONAL.  You want to attract people to the church building and the church people, so that they can love their neighbour, serve their community and practice HOSPITALITY (loving the stranger –  FELLOWSHIP is with believers) when the are scattered.  The attractional people, invite friends, family, co-workers, strangers, enemies, to some of the events and church meetings.  The pastor is not the missionary, the pastor is the missiologist. The people are the missionaries. The pastor studies the culture and the context and equips the people with the gospel to scatter to be the missionaries.

The mission has an AIR WAR and GROUND WAR.  The air war is the preaching from the pulpit, teaching events ie: Sunday gathering.  The ground war is the small groups where the gospel teaching they received from the gathering is discussed and applied, lived out in community with relational accountability for confession, repentance and evangelism.  If the preaching is about Jesus and connected to the small groups’ discussion/curriculum you won’t need “seminary” group leaders.  This becomes like a series of networked house churches that come together for a large celebratory meeting to be trained in the gospel and to enjoy God’s grace together.  The groups come together on mission to serve their communities so that the front door to the church is both the on Sunday, the attractional gathering, and in the groups, the missional scattering.  Preaching should be the air war which leads everything you do, and the ground war comes in behind that – the groups, the counselling, the shepherding, the relational evangelism.

Distinguish between BIBLICAL PRINCIPALS (as in the above 8 marks of a church) and the CULTURAL METHOD (1 Cor 9).  The Bible gives us principles (i.e. sing to the Lord, preach the Word, fathers to raise their children) and the church leaders get to figure out the method in their cultural context.  If you confuse Biblical principal with cultural method you start to believe that your way of doing church is the ONLY way.  Be creative with the cultural method but not the Biblical principles, you don’t want to be so creative you become a heretic.  If you have to choose between faithful and cool, (if you can do both – do it) but go with faithful because that’s always cool.

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