I have recently been having several conversations with people about multi-site churches and it reminded me of a paper I wrote in seminary about this topic. I hope it is useful in getting us thinking about what is a church.
I grew up outside of Washington D.C and until recently my old neighborhood was the home of some serious tobacco farming. For several years of my childhood our house was literally surrounded by a tobacco farm. I remember walking home from school and seeing farmers tilling the soil, planting the seeds, and gathering the tobacco leaves. It was clear to me that my neighbors knew what they were doing. If I asked them anything about tobacco farming they could have told me more than I ever wanted to know. Imagine if one day while I was walking home I asked each of the different farmers what they were planting in the ground. What do you think are the chances that I would have got a different answer from each of them? Each farmer may have different farming methods, but they would never even slightly disagree about what they are planting, right?
Yet, I wonder if I could say the same thing about most pastors and church planters. If I went and asked a large group of pastors and church planters what they are planting, would I get different answers from each one of them? Now, I know that defining and identifying a church is much more complicated and subjective than defining and identifying a tobacco plant. However, I am concerned that many pastors and church planters today are redefining what is a church. All you need to do is begin listening to those pastors and planters who have been advocating the recent multi-site church planting model. If you listen closely to what they are saying about the church and then compare it to what the bible says about the church the differences will be clear.
What I hope communicate in this post is twofold:
1) Provide a biblical and historical definition of the church.
2) Compare that definition with a definition of a multi-site church by quoting the men who are advocating the practice. Continue reading
The following are my notes of Jorge Mendoza’s breakout session at Legacy 2013 Conference.
Today we are going to look in the book of Ephesians at the big picture view of the church. We could look at Acts and see the church really banging. We could look at 1 & 2 Corinthians and see a church struggling. But today we want to look at God’s view of the church.
1. God Wants to Display His Wisdom
What is wisdom? It is knowledge skillfully applied. God is the only wise God. He is in a category of his very own. No one can light a candle to his wisdom. It is manifold. It is multicolored. It has great variety.
You ever watch a movie and then watch a second time you catch something new you missed the first time. God’s wisdom is like watching a movie again and every time you watch it you see something new every single time.
Who is the audience to whom God is displaying his wisdom? God needs an audience that can appreciate it fully. Who does Paul say this audience is?
It is the heavenly beings. The angels and rulers of heaven. The angelic hosts that did not fall.
We see angels all through scripture. From Genesis, through the Old Testament, all through the life of Christ, and all over the place in Revelation. Usually they are called messengers, but in Ephesians 3 we see that these messengers are being recipients of God’s message of wisdom through the church. Continue reading
The following are my notes of Ed Gravely’s lecture at SEBTS.
We know the following things about how Paul planted a church in Thessalonica by looking at Acts 17:
1. Paul first preached in Thessalonica during his 2nd missionary journey according to Acts 17:1-9.
2. Paul stayed in Thessalonica for at least 3 weeks (Acts 17:2) but probably he stayed there longer (maybe around 6 months?).
3. After Paul left Thessalonica he went to Berea. The Thessalonian Jews tracked him down and incited the Bereans to expel him from the city (Acts 17:10-15).
4. Paul continued his travels and was apparently reached with news of the Thessalonians by Timothy while he was in Corinth.
Every time the New Testament authors use the word ἐκκλησία (“church”) they are not always referring to the same thing. Sometimes they are talking about the universal church. Sometimes they are talking about a particular local church. Sometimes they are talking about a group of churches in a region. So below I have attempted to group the ἐκκλησία passages into 3 different categories so that we can see the different usages and meanings of ἐκκλησία.
If you would like to just see a list of all the New Testament passages that include the word ἐκκλησία – “church.” Then click HERE.
The Universal Church
These passages seem to be referring to all the collective churches all over the world and throughout all time.
Mt 16:18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
The following post is my notes of Chris Castaldo’s talk at an event sponsored by Acts 29, Chicago Partnership for Church Planting, and Converge Mid-America. The event was held at Edgewater Baptist Church on February 20, 2013.
Let me read to you a passage from Isaiah 55:10-11:
Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of his servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who equip yourselves with burning torches! Walk by the light of your fire, and by the torches that you have kindled! This you have from my hand: you shall lie down in torment.
I think this passage would remind us that this is precisely where God puts his servant. God puts us in the darkness. God will use you brothers to be lights for his glory.
Introduction – The Sixty Day Challenge
I was a new convert living in Florida and was at a church that had just begun a 60 day challenge. Everyone in the church was encouraged to share their faith once a day for 60 days. On day one I was so busy helping with a fundraiser that the day was almost over and was driving in the car with a Catholic Bishop. Then I realized that I had to share the gospel with this bishop or I would have begun the challenge as a failure. I was really nervous and did not know what to do. My knuckles holding the steering wheel were not turning white. So I started to share my testimony and after I was done all I heard was silence. I had thought I was really going to hear it from the Bishop, but as I looked over and heard his loud breathing I realized that I had put the Bishop to sleep.
These white knuckles are a description of how many of us feel when we share the gospel and especially with Catholics who think they are already saved. Which brings us to the topic we have come to think through together today.
How Can We Share Our Faith WIth Catholic Friends
A few assumptions that I have about this issue that would be good to say from the beginning: