the weblog of Alan Knox

Replay: The Interconnected Church

Posted by on Jul 14, 2012 in community, definition, fellowship, members | 5 comments

Replay: The Interconnected Church

Five and a half years ago (in January 2007), I published a post called “The Interconnected Church.” In the post, I used blog connections as a metaphor for the relational connectivity of the church in the New Testament. Today, unfortunately, the connections are more organizational, which reduces the unity and fellowship among brothers and sisters in Christ. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this form of relational connectivity among the church.

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The Interconnected Church

There is a list of blogs that I frequent on the right side of this web page. 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 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?


5 Comments

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

  1. 7-15-2012

    Glad you decided to replay this post as I goot the opportunity to read it. By the way I saw it cos a christian mate posted it on his Facebook page – yet another means of connection! Love the idea that it’s not about you in your small corner and me in mine. We need to be ‘Kingdom’ minded not ‘church’ minded. I am part of a small house church but I see the folk that I am immediately connected with as only one ptece of the jigsaw that makes up church for me. By the way, I have clicked the ‘subscribe’ button so I am now part of your church too!! Be blessed Alan.

  2. 7-16-2012

    Mick,

    If we use the term “church” the way that the NT authors used the term “ekklesia,” then I don’t see a conflict between “church” and “kingdom.” (This is the way that I use the term, by the way.) However, if we use the term “church” to refer to various organizations and institutions, then there could definitely be a conflict.

    -Alan

  3. 7-16-2012

    Alan. You are right that there are different meaning of the term ‘church’. When referring to ‘church’ and ‘kingdom’, it would probably be better for me to refer to ‘congregation’ and ‘kingdom’. However, I am also actually using ‘kingdom’ to refer to something bigger than the ekklesia even. Everywhere we go we take the kingdom so therefore when we are loving our family or our neighbours we are also expressing the Kingdom whether it’s happening inside or outside the ‘umbrella’ of the ekklesia. I just think everything is far less confined (and more freeing and exciting!) than we have made it. Bless you. Mick

  4. 7-16-2012

    Mick,

    I agree completely with your comment. There is a difference between church/ekklesia and kingdom, but I don’t see a conflict between the two.

    -Alan

  5. 7-16-2012

    Great connecting with you Alan. Look forward to future posts. Blessings. Mick.