the weblog of Alan Knox

Re-defining the church

Posted by on May 7, 2010 in definition | 1 comment

The discussion about the church is ongoing… and probably always will be… and that’s good thing. We should constantly consider who we are in Christ and what that means to how we live with other believers and how we interact with those who are not believers. Two years ago, I wrote a blog post called “Re-defining the church.” In that post, I suggested that we’re having trouble “defining” the church today because we’re focusing on the wrong things. Here’s the post:


Re-defining the Church

This is not an article about the scriptural definition of the church. Instead, it is about how our terminology and use of words has worked in such a way as to re-define our understanding of church. I mean “re-define” in the sense of defining church in a manner that is not consistent with the description of the church that we see in Scripture.

What kinds of terms and words am I talking about? Well, there are many. And, I’ll list a few later. But for now, when you read about the church, when you watch television programs that discuss the church, when you see churches arguing and fighting to the point of splitting, when you see Christians talking about important aspects of the church, what terms and phrases are used? What concepts concerning “church” are important to believers today as demonstrated by their conversations and writings?

I would suggest that many times you will see believers talking about these things in relation to the church: church buildings, church covenants, church constitutions, Bible study programs, discipleship programs, children’s programs, youth programs, church budgets, leadership strategies, church vision, church mission statements, hiring and firing staff, music styles, use of instruments, use of technology, pews or chairs, expository vs. topical vs. thematic preaching, accountability groups, invitations, education, church membership, local church, senior pastors, associate pastors, …

The list could go on and on… These are the things that are important to many believers today when it comes to church. But, all of these items have one thing in common: Scripture does not mention these items in association with the church.

What we (in general) consider important to the church, Scripture does not indicate is important to the church. (At least, if it is important, we must ask why we do not find it in Scripture.)

Could it be that we are struggling to understand what it means to be the church because we are focusing on issues that are not important to being the church? Could it be that we are spending so much time searching Scripture for the implications of our priorities that we miss God’s priorities which are explicit in Scripture?

One Comment

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  1. 5-7-2010

    I’m 37 years old, and for my whole life I have been taught that all those things were what was important in “church”. Over the last 7 years I have been questioning the why’s and how’s of all those things, and within the last 6 months, God has opened my eyes to see the truth about all of them.

    Christ died to redeem the Church, and gave us the details of what that looked like in the NT, and then used Paul and the other Apostles to teach us how to be the Church. But that isn’t good enough for most “Christians” so they have put their trust in a man-made system that has removed all power from the people and has placed it in the hierarchy and system. I get angry when I think about all the years that I wasted pursuing the system instead of being taught the truth, all the while thinking I was pursuing Christ. I have purposed in my heart to fight the rest of my life for the recovery of the NT pattern for church in full obedience to Christ and the NT teachings on how to be the Bride of Christ!