I often have a hard time explaining my understanding of the church (that is, my ecclesiology) when I’m talking to people. I’ve talked about this with many friends who have a similar understanding of the church… and they agree with me.
The main problem – as far as we can tell – is that we start from different places when it comes to the church. And, if you start from different places, then it’s going to be difficult to understand each other.
Three years ago, I wrote a short series while I was thinking about this problem. This series started at the beginning… with God:
To me, each of those steps are important and necessary in order to understand the church. But, it’s difficult to answer a question like, “How do you think elders should be chosen/appointed?” with, “It all begins with God…” But, in reality, if we don’t begin at the same place, then we are not going to understand each other.
The way I see the church, we must understand God’s desire for a relationship with people, our identity as God’s children and God’s family, how we display the character of God’s family, and the reason for us to gather together before we ever begin tackling questions like, “How should elders be chosen/appointed?” or “How/When do we celebrate the Lord’s Supper?” or “How long should the sermon last?”
In fact, if we take the time to work through the first few points, we may find that the original questions become unimportant and unnecessary to ask.
Unfortunately, many people don’t want to start at the beginning with God and work through those other important points. They want to jump to the BIG issues… So, we often end up talking without understanding each other.
If you have time, please read the four posts above. Whether you agree with each item in those posts or not, I’d love to hear what you think about my approach to understanding the church. Is something missing? What would you add, change, delete? What needs to be expanded?