My Story

Monday, April 02, 2007

Toward a Biblical Church Model

The model of the church presented in the scriptures is quite different from the one we see today.
The primitive church survived, even thrived, without most of the things many would consider necessities for a successful church. Comparing the early church to our present day model and we will discover some interesting facts.

1. She did quite well without a centralized leadership structure. The leadership of the early church was quite democratic for its day. Decisions were made by the Apostles, elders, brothers and anyone else who had a stake in the topic at hand. We read of elders being given responsibility to oversee the congregations. Elders in the New Testament are almost always spoken of in the plural. There was no head or senior elder. There was just Elders and the church.
The pastor as we know him today does not exist in the New Testament.

2. She had no order of worship. There is not one example of a standard liturgy in the NT. Not one. None. Nada. Zip. The only order of worship was whatever the Holy Spirit should direct.

3. They had no church buildings. Church buildings did not begin to emerge for 300 years after the time of the Apostles. A simple gathering in the home or public place was all our early brothers and sisters needed to carry out their mission.

4. They did not run programs. No support or affinity groups. No special interest meetings. How did they do it?

5. There was no official statement of Faith. Theology was unheard of. In fact theological debate was discouraged. Something they called "Truth in Love" was the main theme of those early years.

After comparing our model with the early church, I have to wonder how did they do it? How could they possibly hope to succeed without strong pastoral leadership and a well written vision statement? How could they have reached the lost without radio or television? They could not even give everybody a bible! These poor ignorant souls did not have Bible colleges, seminaries and universities to train Pastors. They lacked the technology to do marketing studies to determine the best strategy to reach their core demographic. How could they operate as a church without a building, pews or even a pulpit? Let's take a look at the early church model, perhaps we can learn something from these primitive unlearned people.

1. They were a community held together by a common faith in Jesus Christ.
2. Each gathering directed it's own affairs without centralized leadership.
3. The Holy Spirit had a direct influence in their meetings.
4. They lovingly watched over each others spiritual welfare.
5. Christ was held up as the head of the gathering of believers.
6. The gospel was simple and easy to understand.