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Replay: The trans-congregational church

Posted by on Sep 1, 2012 in community, definition, fellowship, unity | 27 comments

Replay: The trans-congregational church

Three and a half years ago, I wrote a post called “The trans-congregational church.” I wrote the post in a response to an article in which the author used the term “trans-congregational church.” In some ways, I think the author was onto something. But, in other ways, the term and the article point to problems among groups of Christians today that prohibit (or at list hinder) the kind of “trans-congregational” relationships that we read about in Scripture. What do you think?

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The trans-congregational church

In a recent study concern community development in the New Testament, I came across an article called “The Trans-Congregational Church in the New Testament” by Jefrey Kloha (Concordia Journal 34 no 3, July 2008, 172-190).

In this article, Kloha suggests that the term “ekklesia” was used for local congregations that generally met in houses, and more generally for the church-at-large – the heavenly assembly – the “universal church” – the una sancta. But, Kloha says there is a third usage of the term “ekklesia” in the New Testament, which he calls “the trans-congregational church”. He says this “trans-congregational church” consisted of “several (or many) local congregations conceived of corporately”. (173)

Kloha suggests several examples of “the trans-congregational church” in the New Testament. For example, he says that the “church in Jerusalem” could not have met in one place – even the temple courts – so, they must have met in many locations. However, they were considered a single “church”. Also, Kloha says the singular use of “ekklesia” in Acts 9:31 indicates that the individual congregations of Judea, Galilee, and Samaria were considered one church. (Yes, he does discuss the plural variant in this passage, albeit briefly.)

Also, Kloha suggests that the trans-congregational church is demonstrated in the relationships between churches. For example, there is a close connection between the church of Jerusalem and the church of Antioch. Kloha recalls that Paul told the church in Collosae to read his letter to the Laodiceans, and vice versa, indicating a relational connection between the congregations – or multiple congregations – in each city. Paul recognizes the relationships between the various churches in Rome as well (Romans 16).

I think that Kloha has pointed out something that may be missing among the church today. The church has become so exclusive and independent that we often miss the fact that we are united with other brothers and sisters in Christ as well – not only with the ones that meet with us from day-to-day or week-to-week. Kloha offers this concern at the end of his article as well:

By ignoring the NT understanding of the trans-congregational nature of the church we have weakened the bonds of fellowship, mutual concern and support, and unity in doctrine and practice which should inform and indeed define our life together as church. By turning again to the New Testament we might sharpen our understanding of church and apply that understanding to our structure. (191)

I think Kloha has inadvertently (or perhaps intentionally) pointed to one of the problem – structure. Many churches have structured themselves in a way that precludes trans-congregational relationships.

In the life of our community, we have seen this in action. We often encourage our brothers and sisters to meet with other churches. In fact, our elders have met with other churches. Of course, we have to explain that we are not unhappy with our church, nor are we interested in “joining” their church. We simply want to build relationships with other brothers and sisters in Christ.

When we talk about the possibility of other “church members” or leadership meeting with us to further build relationships, this seems strange and odd to them – like they would be unfaithful to their church or their pastor.

Our view of church has become so exclusive and structured that we have a hard time recognizing our relationship to those in “other churches”. So, I agree with Kloha that we have (for the most part) lost this idea of “the trans-congregational church”.

What do you think? Is it important for believers to have “trans-congregational” relationships? Why or why not?


27 Comments

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

  1. 9-1-2012

    This seems a good way to describe the church in a given location: transcongregational. The church is singular in relation to a location–the church at Corinth–or congregation–the church that is in their [ Aquila and Priscilla] house. Both of these terms describe a church singular in a location, which seems to me the “local” church of a locality. Transcongregational is a good description.

    Church is plural when describing the church across locations–the churches of Galatia, or the churches of Christ. The church in Raleigh, for example is one church, that meets in many congregations that are each also called a church. But I don’t think it is biblical to refer to the churches of Raleigh, only to the church of Raleigh. You could talk about the churches of central North Carolina.

    Even then, we are all members of the same family, across our city, our state, the world. Still, the most immediate and common “division” where we don’t feel connected but should, where we compete instead of collaborate, is in a given location (such as Raleigh).

  2. 9-1-2012

    Methinks maybe trans-congregationalism cannot succeed because of the territoriality expressed by most pastors and many congregations in which beating the other guys attendance and facility size seems far more important than baptisms and community help.

  3. 9-1-2012

    I totally agree with the concept of transcendence (location and otherwise)in the Ekklesia of Christ. One Body, One Lord….
    Where you are running into resistance, is the misnamed denominated imposter church. This church is the brain child, of the king of Babylon, and the Lord opposes it. The proof of this statement, is in the earthly nature of that church. God will not bless that which He did not build. Do not for transcendence in the terrestrial.

  4. 9-1-2012

    Jon,

    I’m not worried about it succeeding. It exists. All we can do is recognize it and act on it. We don’t have to create it.

  5. 9-1-2012

    Art,

    Yes, I think that’s a good explanation of what we see in Scripture. What’s interesting to me is that even in regions with “churches,” there is no sense of independence or separation.

    Jon,

    I think we see the same thing in Scripture. For example, think about the first chapter of 1 Corinthians or maybe 3 John. What’s the answer to that?

    Marc,

    I’m sure there are some are not part of God’s ekklesia, but, as we see in Scripture, disunity has always been a problem even with the ekklesia of Christ. Some simply need discipleship. I’d love to hear how you are helping your brothers and sisters in Christ live in that unity.

    -Alan

  6. 9-1-2012

    I probably shouldn’t do this, but I’m gonna meddle. How is this “trans-congregationalism” different from presbyterianism? I’ve recently gone Presbyterian and found out that they occasionally have pastor swap days. I think that’s a good thing. Granted, this swapping only occurs amongst Presbyterian churches that are bound by common beliefs and confessional commitments, and I realize that that aspect is going to get some criticism on this site, but I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing. There are people and churches that are united to Christ but are engaging in sinful practices. Paul calls heresy is a work of the flesh (Gal 5:20) that should elicit a gentle and loving encounter/intervention (Gal 6:1), but if it’s left unchanged, Biblically, shouldn’t that be something that hinders our fellowship (2 Thes 3:14-15)?

  7. 9-1-2012

    Ben,

    From your description, it still seems like the various Presbyterian congregations consider themselves separate from one another, as well as separate from other brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with them in some way. That’s one of the biggest differences between what you’re describing and what I’m describing here. By the way, in the way that you’re using 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15, anyone who disagrees with you (or other Presbyterians) should have nothing to do with you. Is that correct?

    -Alan

  8. 9-1-2012

    NO!!!!! I believe that people who disagree with me should gently and lovingly intervene, preferably with Scripture in hand and show me where I’m going wrong. If I stubbornly resist what the Bible teaches, then probably you need to respond to that, with whatever method the Bible prescribes. If I’m just dumb and don’t see it, I think patience and persistence is probably the best policy. Presbyterians believe that there is a difference between separartion and schism. I thought there were instances in Scripture where a certain level of separation was condoned or even commanded, whereas schism is always wrong. Perhaps I’m wrong about that. Why don’t I will shut my mouth and let you explain how I should be understanding the 2 Thessalonians passage.

  9. 9-1-2012

    Ben,

    There’s no reason for you to stop explaining the 2 Thessalonians passage. I’m not certain what you mean about the difference between “separation” and “schism” – I always thought they were the same thing.

    How can people who disagree with you correct you gently and with patience if you never spend time with them?

    -Alan

  10. 9-1-2012

    Forgive me for the insanely long delay in responding. I had some stuff I had to do. Anyway, I guess I should probably clarify some stuff. I’m not trying to advocate some form of Protestant monasticism or a “holier-than-thou” club. I hang out with and read people that disagree with me. (That, by the way, is why I’m on this site, and that’s exactly the reason why I went Presbyterian.) I don’t think that’s what Paul is advocating in the Thessalonians passage. I think the man that you have no company with is the man that understands and rejects the message yet claims to be a Christian.

    I understand schism to be a rejection of or a defection from God’s truth or God’s people. I understand separation to be the Biblical reaction to schism (Romans sixteen seventeen). I think my nook needs to cool down because it won’t let me type numbers for some reason.

  11. 9-1-2012

    When Christians separate corporately from another group, I don’t think that necessarily requires a corrosponding personal separation. I cannot in good conscience worship in some assemblies, but I have no problem hanging out with those same people. I don’t believe what separates us is willful unrepentant sin, but doctrinal misunderstandings. I don’t think those things should be brushed under the rug in the name of love, but interacted with and challenged in love. I think I took your trans-congregational comments in a more puritanical way than I think you intended. Forgive me for that. As you know, most of the observations you made are also made by Presbyterians but they practice these things within a narrower circle than you seem to be arguing for. They see latitudianarianism as something that’s actually detrimental to the peace and unity of the church.

  12. 9-1-2012

    Ben,

    I agree with you (if I’m understanding you correctly) that separation/schism for the church is reserved for those who are not in Christ. Why can you not worship “in some assemblies” (assuming you are talking about assemblies of believers)? Paul wrote alot about doctrinal misunderstandings, but I don’t think he suggested separation or choosing not to gather together, did he?

    Yes, most denominations (and “non-denominations”) practice unity and fellowship within a “narrower circle” than what I think we find in Scripture.

    -Alan

  13. 9-2-2012

    Unfortunately I don’t think we’re agreeing yet, but we’re working on it with patience and persistence, so that’s encouraging :) I don’t think a person’s regeneration can possibly function as a condition for fellowship because God hasn’t given us the ability to see into each other’s hearts. There are evidences, of course, but our judgment is flawed and we get this stuff wrong at times. I thought Scriptural separation was based upon the objective actions of the individual not the subjective interpretation of the veracity of their faith. I don’t see separation as a declaration of the nullity of one’s faith, but a declaration of the sinfulness of their conduct.

    I think I could technically worship in any assembly, God knows my heart, and I don’t think there is any place that God can’t or won’t accept his children’s worship. The place isn’t important. God made all places and should be worshipped in all places. I understand that. That being said, I couldn’t worship with a good conscience in some assemblies. I believe that believers are found in weird places. For example, I’m confident that there are Christians in very liberal assmeblies, one’s with sodomite woman pastors and stuff. I don’t believe that Christians should attend assemblies like that, but it happens, I know it does. I could attend that assembly if my intention was to pull a Paul and stand up and call these guys to repentence or something, but I would not attend that assembly in silence and go along with it. I believe that would be wrong on a lot of levels.

    I don’t think the standard for finding an acceptable assembly to worship in is the presence of believers. I believe the standard is Scripture. I think every major Protestant Reformer believed that there were Christians in the Roman Catholic Church even after the Council of Trent anathamatized them and the gospel they preached, yet they separated because they knew it would have been sinful to comply with and perpetuate the teachings and practices of Rome. If I know that an assmebly is going to practice things that I believe are unbiblical, I don’t think it would be right for me to comply with that if at all possible, regardless of the head count of believers.

    Perhaps I should shut up and let you explain these passages, because I know these passages aren’t new to you and I’m currently operating under the impression that Paul does talk about separation from people that he seems to view as at least potentially believers in 2 Thes. 3:6, 14-15; 1 Cor. 5:9-11; Rom. 16:17; 1 Tim. 6:3-5; Tit. 3:10-11. I think one of the issues that makes this difficult is that we live in America and we value tolerance and freedom of religion and stuff. That stuff is hard to defend Biblically. Scripture seems to advocate not simply a unity of affection, but also a unity of doctrine (1 Cor 1:10). Truth is what sactifies us (Jn. 17:17) and transforms us (Rom. 12:2). Historically when the Church abandons a gracious truth-driven unity, and persues simply a more watered-down, generic, fundamentalistic grace-driven unity doctrine alway gets more and more compromised, the church always gets weaker and more anemic, and eventually the Church turns into a man-centered love club and it eventually becomes apostate. That’s what happened to the Presbyterian Church of the USA. It’s sad stuff. You don’t have to become a Presbyterian, but I beg you to at least learn from them and rethink your latitudinarian principles. Nothing good comes from them in the long run.

  14. 9-2-2012

    Ben, why are you so apologetic in your comments as though this forum shoots (or worse yet, bans) those who disagree? I understand the PCUSA vs other Presbyterians issue…I’ve seen it in the ABC vs GARBC…in the great variety of perspectives within the United Methodist camp…and even in the Pentecostal/charismatic settings. Yet, oddly enough, in my local Charlottetown area I see a sort of trans-congregational activity. One church group has a Saturday evening ‘More’ service that draws folks from several other groups and a whole host of folks float around among 3 or 4 churches as special speakers are in the area (and the meetings are announced in the other churches). I see ‘sheep sharing’ between Nazarene, Vineyard, Catch the Fire, and several other churches that have a common Charismatic flavor. And the Salvation Army church seems to encourage support of activities at the nearby Baptist, Presbyterian, and United churches. It feels about as inter-congregational as I can imagine, given that the different groups have some pretty significant differences in theology and practice…somehow they still support each other and get together when the activities are mutually acceptable.

  15. 9-2-2012

    Ben,

    From what I can tell, the passages that you list (and others) refer to problems between individuals who know one another, i.e., they have a relationships with one another. The separation occurs when one of them demonstrates by their life or profession that they are not following Jesus Christ. I think we can also conclude that the separation happens after much teaching, discipling, correcting, etc.

    In this post – and others – I’m not too concerned with whether or not you agree with the stated doctrine of a certain denomination. I’m more concerned with whether or not you are interacting with your neighbor, coworker, family member, etc. who you know and who professes to be a brother/sister in Christ yet who disagrees with you at some points. Are you still able to fellowship with that person, learn from one another, and even gather together? This could even include gathering with others who your friend knows. Of course, you would not then have to wonder who is or who is not a Christian, since you already know your friend.

    Tom,

    I think that’s a very interesting idea that can definitely foster relationships across groups of Christians.

    -Alan

  16. 9-2-2012

    I appreciate your heart, and yes I am able to, and do try to, fellowship with believers that I disagree with. To be honest most Christians disagree with me on this Presbyterian stuff, and I have a great time hanging out with them. Today I hung out with my friend Eddie who has some 7th Day Adventist leanings and believes the church I go to is apostate because it’s a 501(c)3 church. We had a great time together and thoroughly enjoyed each others fellowship (at least I enjoyed his, I hope he enjoyed mine, but I’m not really sure. I didn’t ask him.) My own brother told me that he thinks infant baptism is a damnable heresy, yet we get along great. That probably speaks more to the credit of Eddie and my brother than it does to me, but regardless we’re able to hang out and enjoy each others fellowship.

    By the way, when I gather with others I don’t really concern myself with who is a Christian and who is not. I don’t think I’m commanded to discern people’s hearts. If someone claims to be a Christian I generally give them the benefit of the doubt. If there’s some egregious sin, I don’t jump to the conclusion that they’re not a believer. They very well could be a believer stuck in sin. That happens. When it does, I think you’re right that’s when teaching, discipling, and correcting should come into play.

    I think I agree with your comment that when separtation occurs it needs to happen within a relationship. I don’t even understand how separation would even be possible with somebody that you don’t have a relationship with. Doesn’t Paul encourage separation as a remedial course intended to shame your brother out of his sin in the 2 Thessalonians passage? If there’s no relationship how can shame be derived from a broken relationship that never actually existed? I don’t see how it can.

    By the way, do you think perposefully not attending an assembly is the same as separating from that assembly? Because there are assemblies that I purposefully do not attend. Do you think that’s wrong? Are there any assemblies that you purposefully do not attend?

    Just to clarify where I’m coming from, I’m all for Christians fostering trans-congreational relationships. I guess the difference between us is that I make a difference between ecclesiastical fellowship and personal fellowship. I don’t think Christians should engage in trans-confessional ecclesiastical fellowship. I think different confessional beliefs justify different denominations. For example infant baptism is either a truth of God’s word or it’s a false doctrine. There’s no third option. Somebody’s right here and somebody’s wrong. Somebody’s gotta change, but both camps are convinced that they’re right. As far as I can tell there are only three options here:

    1. One side compromises their sincerely held belief.
    2. Both sides compromise their sincerely held beliefs.
    3. Both sides hold to their sincerely held beliefs and try to lovingly convince each other why they’re wrong.

    None of these options is all that desirable, but I think option 3 is the most faithful and honorable course available under the circumstances, yet this is the course that creates denominations. Denominations exist because heresy exists. Denominations are not evil, heresy is. Engaging in trans-confessional ecclesiastical fellowship without addressing the heresy that caused the rift in the first place follows option 1. I think that’s an unfaithful course. In effect it reverses everything. It tolerates heresy in order to eradicate the “sin” of denominationalism. I think that’s completely backwards. I think the answer is to root out the false teachings that caused the denominations in the first place. When there are sincere confessional doctrinal differences, I don’t think it’s good or right to brush those under the rug and just engage in ecclesiastical fellowship anyway. When that happens you’re purposefully abandoning what you personally believe to be the Apostle’s doctrine; you’re not holding fast the form of sound words; you’re not keeping that which was committed to your trust as a believer. In short, you’re being unfaithful to Scripture. You’re compromising God’s truth in order to supposedly “obey” God’s command to love a brother. I believe that’s messed up. We can love each other and disagree on stuff and try to talk things out. There’s no rule against that. That’s the course that actually attempts to fix the real problem. That’s my take at least. I’m interested to get your take on this stuff.

  17. 9-2-2012

    Ben,

    I’m a little confused. You agree that separation happens in the context of relationships, but then you focus on “ecclesiastical fellowship” with people that you do not know personally (i.e., no relationship). What would happen if we actually accepted (as real brothers and sisters) everyone whom God accepts in Jesus Christ, in spite of theological disagreements? Doesn’t Paul give us examples of theological disagreements that should not lead to separation (on a real, relational level)?

    I guess the only way that I can give my take is to say that I don’t make a distinction between different levels of separation (i.e., ecclesiastical fellowship vs. personal fellowship). All fellowship is personal. Either I separate from someone who claims to be a brother or sister in Christ, or I do not. From what I can tell in Scripture, this decision always happens in the context of a real relationship.

    -Alan

  18. 9-3-2012

    Sorry for my lack of clarity. Perhaps my terminology wasn’t the best. My point was simply that in order to do justice to the Biblical data I think we need distinguish between different types of fellowship (maybe “different levels of unity” would have been more appropriate terminology. Then again maybe not. I’m actually not too pickey about the terminology. If the distinction is Biblical feel free to cast it in whichever terms you please. If it’s unbiblical feel free to flush it.) To me, Paul seems to describe separating from a brother in the 2 Thessalonians passage. If that is the case then I think we need to make some sort of distinction here. After all Paul and the sinning brother are one in Christ. They’re simultaneously united in Christ and separated by sin. I was trying to say that believers can be simultaneously united in Christ, yet divided by the sin of heresy. ou can probably come up with better terminology than I did to describe that relationship, but that’s the sort of distinction that I was trying to make. There

  19. 9-3-2012

    Sorry I accidently hit the publish button on my nook. I wasn’t done with my comment, but you get the gist of it.

    Anyway, just to clarify, as far as I know I do accept as real brothers and sisters everyone God accepts in Christ. I like to think I’m pretty generous on that issue. I think we may be talking past each other a little bit here. You said in the end of your comment that”either we separate from someone ‘who claims to be’ a brother or sister in Christ”. In your mind is it illegitamite to separate from a believer? Do you view separation as the nuclear option that actually declares someone to actually be an unbeliever, because I don’t see it like that.

    Perhaps my “ecclesiastical fellowship” phraseology was misguided, but I think I was attempting to describe what you called “relation connection between the churches”. Perhaps we’re describing different things, I’m not sure. Why does my conception of “ecclesiastical fellowship” deny the relational aspect? I’m not sure that I understand that.

  20. 9-3-2012

    And yes, Paul does describe Christians theological disagreements that should not lead to separation. Some things are adiaphora (Rom. 14) while other things are not (1 Tim. 6:3-5).

  21. 9-5-2012

    I’m guessing you find my views on this stuff revolting and schismatic. When I first read a defense of this position in John Anderson’s book entitled Alexander and Rufus I did as well. Perhaps I should have shut the book after the first chapter and never opened it again. Unfortunately I didn’t do that. The more I read and thought about what he said the more I thought this Anderson guy might actually be on to something here. If you want to check his book out you can find it here:

    http://archive.org/details/alexanderandruf00egoog

    If nothing else it’s good fodder for your blogs.

  22. 9-5-2012

    Dang it!! Let me try that link again.

    http://archive.org/details/alexanderandruf00andegoog

  23. 9-5-2012

    Ben,

    I’m sorry that it took me so long to reply. I do not find your views revolting or schsmatic, even though I disagree with them. While there may be some who comment here who would condemn you for your beliefs, I have many friends who hold very similar beliefs in all sincerity and faith toward God. I enjoy their fellowship in spite of our disagreements in this area.

    In 2 Thess 3:14-15, if Paul is suggesting separating from someone while still considering that person a brother/sister in Christ, it would mean a few things: 1) This is still an issue based on personal relationships between people and how they live, not organizational issues based on statements of belief. 2) The “warning” can only continue to take place within a relationship, which is further clarified by Paul’s use of the term “brother.” 3) As far as I can tell, this would be the only place in Scripture where Paul (or any other author) recommends separation (no fellowship) while continuing to consider the person a brother/sister in Christ. (The term “brother” or “sister” had a much stronger meaning then than it does not.)

    That said, I think that passage is best explained in the context of 2 Thess 3. Paul is talking about not taking part in the person’s refusal to work with his hands to support himself by providing financial help.

    -Alan

  24. 9-6-2012

    Alan, thank you very much for your extreme patience with me. I’ll try to make this my last post on this blog, because even I’m getting sick of me by now. Perhaps I need to rethink some of this stuff, because you’re definitely smarter than me, and you definitely disagree with me.

    That being said, I agree with you that this passage doesn’t speak about separation from heretical teachers. This is definitely describing the course to take with disorderly, lazy, busy bodies, who are able to work but won’t, and are rejecting Paul’s admonitions to get off of their butts. I think that much we are in agreement upon. I was trying to mine some general principles from his admonition about how to deal with sin in the body, and then apply those principles to different circumstances. Perhaps that’s methodologically misguided. You made the case that “this is still an issue based on personal relationships between people and how they live, not organizational issues based on statements of belief.” Perhaps I’m misunderstanding you, but I think this is where you start losing me. I’m not sure if wrong actions are more objectionable/disciplineable than wrong confessions. I’m not sure if you’re even implying that, but it kind of seems like it. To me it seems like wrong beliefs and wrong actions oftentimes go together. And I understood it to be a wrong action to embrace or tolerate a wrong teaching. Jesus seems to find fault with the Angel of the church of Pergamos because he has in his church those who hold the doctine of Baalam and others who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. If Jesus finds fault for him tolerating those who hold those doctrines, shouldn’t he have done something to have shown his disapproval of those doctrines/teachers? I thought so, but I’ve been wrong before. Also, who do you think the Angels of the churches are? Do you think they’re humans or actually angelic beings? I tend to think that they’re human servants in the church because John actually writes letters to them. It seems kinda weird to have John write a letter to an angel. I’m interested on your take on this Pergamos stuff.

    Also you distinguished between personal relationships and organizational issues. If we view the church as a family can’t there still be the relational aspect along with a corporate aspect? Is Paul giving this counsel to the corporate church or to the individual Christian? If this counsel is given to the church would it be wrong for the church to stand in a united way against this man that won’t work? Can these relational things work in a corporate way? I know you know this, but some people understand the expression “note that man” to be an open rebuking of the man either by a written letter (they would translate it: “note that man by and epistle”) or by a public rebuke similar to 1 Tim. 5:20. Once again, I’m a pretty good listener, and this is gonna be my last post, so if you want to address that, the floor is yours.

    Perhaps I’m wrong about this, but I always understood church discipline to be a remedial course to gain an erring brother, not so much as a declaration of the illegitimacy of a person’s faith. I guess I’ve gotta rethink that one.

    I know that our view of the church is different, and that’s going to lead to different views of on the doctrine/discipline/sacraments stuff. That much I get. I’m not sure, but I think I read that you’re into the fellowship meal stuff as opposed to communion thing. I’m not really sure how that works. I’m wondering if you believe in witholding that meal from believers in known, unrepentant sin? Would you consider that a form of separation with a believer?

  25. 9-6-2012

    Ben,

    Yes, belief does affect the way someone lives. I was not making a distinction between belief and practice, but between relationship and non-relationship.

    I think your family analogy is a good one. Families do make corporate decisions, but again, these are based on relationship. The people in the family know one another.

    The people that Paul wrote to knew one another and knew Paul. Paul expected them to act to help and or separate from people that they actually knew. Today, most Christians are more concerned about people that they do not actually know.

    -Alan

  26. 8-10-2013

    Hi Alan,

    I agree with the author of the article that there are three kinds of churches in the NT but I believe we are best to designate them by their scriptural terms:
    (1) The church which is Christ’s Body (Eph.1:22,23) (the BIG church), (2) The church of God in a city (I Cor.1:2) composed of all the saints in that locality and their gatherings when the whole church comes together into one place (I Cor.14:23 see also Acts 15 where the whole church at Jerusaelm came together) (the medium sixed church) and
    3)Churches in someone’s house (Aquila and Priscilla’s house, Nympha’s house etc)

    Yes, we definitely need to foster relationships with all of our brothers and sisters in Christ who live around us and see how we can minister to and receive ministry from them as fellow members in the Body and in the church of God in our community.

    I’m enjoying your blog. Keep up the good work!
    A brother in Christ, Bruce Woodford

  27. 8-11-2013

    Bruce,

    I agree. In fact, I typically just use the term “church” when referring to any of the three “kinds of church” that you mentioned. To me, that reinforces our unity.

    -Alan