the weblog of Alan Knox

City Church Revisited…

Posted by on Mar 12, 2007 in blog links, definition, members | 12 comments

David Rogers at “Love Each Stone” has kicked off a great discussion with a post called “The City Church, a guest post by Paul Grabill“. As the title suggests, the post was actually written by Paul Grabill. Besides discussing the city church idea, they are also discussing APEPT (apostles, prophets, evagelists, pastors, and teachers from Eph. 4:11). I would recommend reading this post and participating in the ongoing discussion in the comments.

However, I also have a question. Is there a “city church” even if the “churches” of an area do not recognize it? Similarly, and perhaps more importantly, do the “one anothers” of Scripture apply only to those who are part of the same church (i.e. membership), or do they apply to any believer that we meet?


12 Comments

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  1. 3-12-2007

    Alan,

    I would say that, even if the “churches” of an area don’t recognize the “city church,” it still exists in theory, though not in practice.

    I also definitely see the “one anothers” as applicable to any believer we meet, though especially to those, with whom, due to proximity, we have regular contact.

    What I wonder about here, though, as I commented on your last post as well, is what to do when it comes to corrective discipline. It seems to me there needs to be a recognized leadership structure in order to “enforce” discipline decisions. It becomes tricky when individual congregations do not recognize the discipline decisions taken by the others. At the same time, I am leary of a Roman Catholic-type college of bishops that have hierarchical authority over everyone.

  2. 3-12-2007

    David,

    I agree about “city church” and the one anothers of Scripture.

    As I commented earlier, I don’t see where Scripture relates discipline to “a recognized leadership structure”. It seems to me that discipline is much more related to fellowship.

    -Alan

  3. 3-13-2007

    Alan,

    Could you explain a little more what you mean by discipline being related to fellowship?

    Thanks,

    David

  4. 3-13-2007

    David,

    The connection between discipline and fellowship is one that I want to study more. I mentioned it briefly almost a year ago in a post called “What’s the big deal about church discipline?” I believe that church discipline is ineffective apart from true, Spirit-based fellowship. Unless a person has a stake in other people’s lives, then he will not care if those other people treat him “as a Gentile and a tax collector”.

    -Alan

  5. 3-14-2007

    Alan,

    I see and agree with your point about deep relationships underlying successful church discipline. However, what I am still wondering about is whether it is also helpful, and even necessary, to have some kind of established protocol, which, in turn, calls for clear lines of authority and accountability, rather than a more informal, “loosey-goosey,” tending toward anarchistic, approach. I know these are “loaded” terms. But I use them in order to bring to the surface the real concerns I have. Maybe I am still not understanding you correctly here, though.

    Maybe it would help me if you could write up a brief description of a hypothetical scenario, and how the model of discipline you are proposing might work in practice.

  6. 3-14-2007

    David,

    I do not believe that there are only these two options: 1) “established protocol… [with] clear lines of authority and accountability” or 2)”‘loosey-goosey’ tending toward anarchistic”. I think there may be another option.

    I am hesitant to describe a “hypothetical scenario” since they rarely imitate real life situation and can often be turned into patterns.

    So, what do I mean? I mean that God has given us a pattern in Scripture, and leads us by the Holy Spirit. The church (not just “authorities”) should follow those patterns and the leading of the Spirit. Those who are more mature should set the example in how to follow God (even in the area of discipline) – sometimes those people are recognized leaders, sometimes they are not.

    If someone is not following the scriptural patterns or the leading of the Spirit, then once again, as Sripture says, those who are more mature should humbly ad gently help them see where they are straying.

    I do not think it takes established protocols or authorities. Instead, it takes fellowship and discipleship.

    By the way, I am working on a post that explains more about why I think fellowship is fundamental, not just in discipline, but for the church as a whole. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to post it though.

    -Alan

  7. 3-14-2007

    Alan,

    I look forward to what you have to say on your upcoming post.

    Not meaning to press the issue or be argumentative. It just so happens, as I am now reading through “The Normal Christian Church Life” by Watchman Nee that I came across the following quote, and think it is relevant to the conversation here:

    “God intended that every Christian should be a ‘Christian worker,’ and He appointed some to take the oversight of the work so that it might be carried on efficiently. It was never His thought that the majority of believers should devote themselves exclusively to secular affairs and leave the church matters to a group of spiritual specialists. This point cannot be over-emphasized. Elders are not a group of men who contract to do the church work on behalf of its members; they are only the head-men who superintend affairs. It is their business to encourage the backward and restrain the forward ones, never doing the work instead of them, but simply directing them in the doing of it.”

    I think what Nee says here may strike a happy balance between the two perspectives we seem to be coming from on the point we are discussing here. What do you think?

  8. 3-14-2007

    David,

    You quoted Nee as saying: “Elders are not a group of men who contract to do the church work on behalf of its members; they are only the head-men who superintend affairs. It is their business to encourage the backward and restrain the forward ones, never doing the work instead of them, but simply directing them in the doing of it.”

    Without thinking through this too much, I would say it as follows: “Elders are not a group of men who contract to do the church work on behalf of others; they are leaders who help and take care of other people. They encourage others to serve and mature in Christ. They show them what it means to serve and mature in Christ by their own example.”

    -Alan

  9. 3-14-2007

    Alan,

    I guess a lot of this hinges on the specific definition and practical application you give to words like:

    “oversight,” “superintend,” & “directing” (from Nee’s quote), and

    “help,” “take care of” & “encourage” (from your quote).

    Although I have read your posts on “Leadership, Obedience and Authority” as well as the Dusty Owens “Do Elders Rule?” article, I still think biblical language would lead an average reader to understand something like the normal meaning of the English word “leadership.”

    Another way of saying it is, in any group of people, if “everyone is responsible then, in effect, no one is responsible.” It is helpful for there to be people who “step up to the plate” when needed, and say “the buck stops here.” I believe those who do this should be officially recognized by the congregation as having the prerogative to do so.

    The danger to be avoided here is when “leadership” and “supervision” cross the line over to “lording it over.”

  10. 3-14-2007

    David,

    The translations of a few key words certainly makes all the difference in the world. For example, consider Hebrews 13:17:

    “Obey those who rule over you…”

    “Follow those who lead you…”

    Both of those are valid English translations of the Greek words in that verse. But, in English, they have completely different meanings. Which one is correct?

    As per “the buck stops here” kinda language… that sonds like “lording it over” to me. Perhaps we should let God say “the buck stops here”? It seems that all believers are given the responsibility of caring for others, including confronting them about unrepentant sin, etc.

    -Alan

  11. 3-14-2007

    Alan,

    I don’t think we are all that far apart in the way we view this. Probably still a bit different in our understanding, though. You have helped me to look at this from a different perspective, which I will keep in mind as I continue to attempt to let Scripture shape my understanding.

  12. 3-14-2007

    David,

    We are probably not far apart at all. In fact, I would tend to say that we are in unity… ;)

    -Alan