the weblog of Alan Knox

Look at that body: The danger of “models” for the church

Posted by on Nov 28, 2011 in blog links, discipleship | 8 comments

Look at that body: The danger of “models” for the church

Swanny at “Allergic to BS” has written a great post called “I’m Not a Model… You Know What I Mean?

(By the way, hopefully you get the song references in Swanny’s title, which led me to another song connection in my title…)

In his post, Swanny talks about “models” of church organization and gatherings. He’s not for them… not at all.

He writes:

I want to step out there and say to everyone that reads my blogs and emails and talks to me on the street. I am not looking for or asking anyone to come up with another ”church model”. I am so sick and tired of people obsessing with how something is supposed to work. I would like for people to focus more on “why” they are doing what they are doing, and is what they are actually doing make sense. Ask yourself what you are really doing, and then answer yourself…honestly. If I said to someone I attended a ”house church”, the first thing they will ask is.. “well, how does that work?”

Later, he continues:

There is a huge problem going on out there in “ChristianLand”. I do not think the church is in need of anymore models or systems, but rather it is in a desperate need of a ginormous VISION of who Jesus Christ really is. Just live life together as His Body in community. I see a church with no models, I see church as a bunch of people gathering or assembling together to BE Christ’s actual body, by having Him work through us so others can see and experience the “Allness” of God”, which is simply love, not a human-made model of love

In this last paragraph, Swanny hits on the real danger of models. Yes, organizing a certain way or meeting together in a certain way may have worked for a certain group of believers in a certain place at a certain time. But, that does not mean that the same “model” should be lived out by any other group of believers.

Why? Because the church is people – God’s people gathered together. And, unless you haven’t noticed, people are different. They are gifted differently; they have different concerns and issues; they have different strengths and weaknesses; they have different opportunities and passions. When we force people to organize or gather in a way that another group organizes or gathers, we are inherently forcing them into a pattern (a “model”) that DOES NOT FIT.

Will there be consistent aspects of any group of believers gathering together. Yes, because if they are following Jesus Christ, he is their head, and he will be the focus.

Otherwise, though, models are dangerous and disruptive to the maturity of the church.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 11-28-2011

    Thanks for the pingback!

    I am glad someone recognized the song title 🙂

  2. 11-28-2011

    While this is really important for the church within a culture to get, it is even more disruptive and dangerous to transport models and methods from one culture into another.

    Within the same culture, it is easier to assess whether a certain method or model is working for you according to your understanding of the “why’s” (what some call the supracultural principles in contrast to practices put into place to fulfill them (also known by some as functions versus forms). The principles do not change from place to place or culture to culture. The practices will take on a wide variety of variation.

  3. 11-28-2011


    Thanks for the post! Look for an email from me… 🙂


    I agree. The more groups differ from one another, the more danger there is in using models and patterns.


  4. 11-28-2011

    I have to admit I don’t get the song reference but I get what he is saying. His post to me is a somewhat…saltier…version of your post Why I am not a house church proponent.

  5. 11-28-2011

    Arthur – I might leave a bad taste in some readers mouths, but some do like salty foods 🙂

    I guess we cannot lay it on sweet all the time 🙂

  6. 11-28-2011

    Art – I am with you on that comment!

  7. 11-28-2011

    Swanny re:saltier version, etc. I think it’s fair to say Alan is the gold standard on saying things in such a nice way it is hard for anyone to be offended.

    While I envy his skill and wish to emulate it, I know I would miss just laying it out the way you did with a bit of fiery attitude.

  8. 11-29-2011


    Look up “Right Said Fred”… I enjoyed your follow-up post, by the way.


    Thanks for the great post! Your stuff is always challenging and thought-provoking.


    I enjoy reading people who write differently and take different perspectives and approaches than I do. 🙂