Almost two years ago, I wrote a post called “The Interconnected Church“. In that post, I compared the church as we see it in the New Testament to blogging communities. Instead of having isolated groups of people, we see much more interaction and interconnection. I still think this is a good analogy. What do you think?
There is a list of blogs that I frequent on the right side of this web page (now on the left). If I go to most of those blogs, they will also include a list of blogs that the author visits regularly. If you navigate through those links, you will find other lists of blogs. And the cycle continues indefinitely… well, not indefinitely, but for many, many links.
There are a few people (a few more now) who frequent my blog. They interact with me through comments. I occasionally visit other blogs and interact with them through comments.
Could it be that this is a metaphor for the church in the New Testament?
Consider a believer in the New Testament. Let’s call him Joe. Joe knows several other believers. He interacts with them through normal relationships: family relationships, neighborhood relationships, work relationships, civic relationships, etc. Since these people are believers, they also gather regularly. Now, they may not all gather together at the same time. Perhaps some gather regularly at Joe’s house. Others gather regularly at Sally’s house. Joe occasionally meets with those at Sally’s house because he knows most of the people there. Also gathering at Sally’s house is the Smith family. They do not gather with the people at Joe’s house regularly, because the Smith family does not know them well. However, since they love Joe, and want to interact with him more, they will meet at his house on occasion. Meanwhile, once in a while, Joe will meet with another group with the Smith family. In this way, the interconnectivity is strengthened and grows.
In this scenario, there is interconnectivity among the church based on relationships. There is the church in Joe’s house, and the church in Sally’s house, and a few other churches; but they all recognize that they are the church in their city – because of the interconnectivity of relationships. They also recognize that they are somehow connected to groups outside their city, also through the interconnectivity of relationships.
If this is a valid view of the church in the New Testament, then could we be missing something today? Usually, when we talk about churches being connected to one another, we speak in terms of leadership networks, associations, etc. In other words, those in leadership from one church are connected to those in leadership from another church. This connection is not based on natural relationships, but on associations intentionally created to make connections. Meanwhile, many people in each church (specifically, those not in leadership) may find that they have very little connections with those outside their group, even with other churches with whom their leaders “associate”. Why? Because instead of being interconnected, the churches consider themselves mutually exclusive.
Are there any scriptural indications that an interconnected view of the church is valid, or that this view is not valid? What are some problems that might be caused by taking this view of the church?