This post is the eighth post in a chain blog on the topic of the “City Church”. I started this chain blog a few weeks ago in a post called “City Church – A Chain Blog“. See the end of this post for more “links” in this chain, and for more information about chain blogging.
So far in this chain blog, there have been some good posts and good discussion in the comments concerning the idea of one church in a city. As most of the bloggers have pointed out, the idea of a “city church” stems from Scripture, and the observance that scriptural authors recognized one church in a city, even though that church may meet as smaller groups of people, which are also called “churches”. We’ve discussed meetings of the city church, hindrances to the city church concept, and leadership in the city church. In this post, I’d like to toss around some ideas that may help others begin to recognize themselves as part of a larger “church” – that is, that every believers is co-member with every other believer in their area, especially those believers that God has brought into their lives, whether or not they share a formal “membership”.
Recognizing our connection with other believers in our area does not automatically make for a “city church”. However, followers of Jesus are so disjointed and disconnected now, that there seems to be a need for small steps before jumping into attempting to recognize (whether structured or unstructured) a church in a city. Here are a few suggestions of “small steps” (or large ones, depending on how you looking at it) they may help people recognize their mutual relationship with other believers in their area and the possibility of one church in a city.
Membership vs. Members of One Another
The idea that all believers are members with one another is a concept that is reiterated throughout Scripture. We become members of the body of Christ – and, therefore, co-members with one another – by the work of the Holy Spirit. The “one anothers” of Scripture demonstrate that the Spirit works within each of us toward any other believer that God brings into our lives. However, this idea of being mutual members with one another can be thwarted by the idea of “membership” in a particular organization. “Membership” itself is not a problem as long as it is not seen as being exclusive. However, occasionally “membership” is taken to be exclusive and the “one anothers” are only seen as applicable toward others with whom we share “membership”. This type of “membership” hinders unity among believers.
Leadership and Exclusive Domains
Sometimes, church leaders will get the idea that some of the people are their “domain”. Because of this, they become possessive and protective of their “church” – not in the sense of protecting from heresy, but in the sense of keeping them to themselves. Thus, it is seen as a bad thing if someone who is part of “their” church spends time with another leader. However, when leaders recognize that the church belongs to Jesus Christ, and when leaders desire to see people mature in Christ regardless of who helps those people, these leaders will welcome encouragement, edification, and teaching regardless of the source. These leaders will want people to mature if that means that these people are no longer part of “their” church. Leadership with an “exclusive domain” on people will hinder the unity of the church.
You went WHERE?
The concept of one church in a city and even unity within the church requires that believers form and maintain relationships among a diverse group of believers within their area – not just the leaders, but all believers. As believers form relationships with people who are part of other churches, they should feel the freedom and the encouragement to meet with those other churches. This is related to the previous two “small steps” and is perhaps one outward manifestation when a person begins to recognize unity among the body of Christ.
Again, these are a few “small steps”… but in many ways these are steps that directly contradict the prevailing attitude about “church” today. Can you think of other “small steps” that might help believers recognize the unity that Jesus desired and prayed for?
Chain blog rules: (Note: I’ve modified Rule #3 slightly as requested by James.)
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 all previous links 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: ?