This is the first post of a “chain blog” concerning the topic of “city church”.
When we read Acts and the Epistles, we can’t help but notice that the church is usually designated by a location. Specifically, the church is primarily identified with a city: the church in Jerusalem, the church in Antioch, the church in Ephesus, the church in Colossae, the church in Philippi. In fact, “city churches” are identified in more than ten different cities in the New Testament.
However, we rarely hear of a “city church” today. You do not hear about the church in Raleigh (the nearest large city to me), or the church in Chicago, or the church in London, etc. (Yes, I know there are exceptions, and if you are familiar with those exceptions, I would encourage you to share that with us.)
For me, this raises the question: Is it valid for us to discount the “city church” in the New Testament and assume that it has no validity for us today? If the concept of a “city church” is valid today, then what would that look like? I’ve listed several categories below. What does the idea of “city church” look like in each category?
Would a “city church” meet together? What would be the purpose of such a meeting? Who would organize the meeting? What activities should be part of a “city church” meeting?
Would a “city church” have leaders? Would leaders within individual churches comprise the leadership of a “city church”? What would be the responsibilities of leaders toward a “city church”?
Besides meetings, what other types of activities would a “city church” be involved in? How would the activities of a “city church” differ from the activities of individual believers?
How would a “city church” interact with and cooperate with individual churches and individual believers?
Is it possible to have a “city church” with little to no defined structure? Does a “city church” require more strict or less strict structure and organization than individual churches?
When we read Scripture and we see the authors discuss the church in a particular city, these references to “city churches” seem strange. In our culture – even in our church culture – there is very little emphasis or discussion of “city church”. Instead, this important designation in Scripture is usually relegated to an embryonic church or a different culture. However, I think there is more to learn from Scripture concerning the “city church”. In particular, I believe that as we learn more about how the authors of Scripture refer to the church in a particular city, we may learn more about how we should relate and interact with many (or perhaps all) believers in our area. At this point, at least, it appears that early believers knew more about the other believers in their cities than many of us know today. In fact, these early believers seemingly spent time with and interacted with a larger section of the church than we tend to relate to today. Perhaps, by studying these city churches in Scripture, we can at least recognize the necessity of our own interdependence between different groups of believers.
If you have some ideas related to “city church”, then please share them with us. Perhaps you can think of other questions related to “city church”. Share those as well. I look forward to learning alot about “city church” through this chain blog, and I may even decide to write another link in the chain later.
Chain blog rules:
1) If you would like to write the next blog post (link) in this chain, leave a comment stating that you would like to do so. If someone else has already requested to write the next link, then please wait for that blog post and leave a comment there requesting to write the following link.
2) Feel free to leave comments here and discuss items in this blog post without taking part in the actual “chain”. Your comments and discussion are very important in this chain blog.
3) When you write a link in this chain, please reply in the comments of the previous link to let everyone know that your link is ready. Also, please try to keep an updated list of links in the chain at the bottom of your post, and please include these rules at the bottom of your post.
“City Church” Chain
Link 1: “City Church – A Chain Blog” by Alan Knox
Link 2: “City Church: Meeting” by Charlie Wallace
Link 3: “Roadblocks on the Path to City Church” by David Rogers
Link 4: “The Major Roadblock to a City Church” by Steve Sensenig
Link 5: “The Resurrection of the City Church: Who Will Move the Stone?” by Paul Grabill
Link 6: “A City Church Thought Experiment” by Jon Amos
Link 7: “The Restoration of the City or Locality Church and Apostolic Leadership” by James Goetz
Link 8: “Unity and the Church in a City” by Alan Knox
Link 9: ?