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.
The thesis of this book is to teach church planters to plant a biblical church in a local culture. This is essentially what he means when he uses the word “missional” throughout the book. In the preface he actually defines missional as “taking the approach of a missionary – being indigenous to the culture, seeking to understand and learn, adapting methods to the mission field – but winding up in the biblical form of a church.”
The rest of the book simply unpacks the above thesis and definition. Stetzer walks the readers through the church planting process and all along the way he explains how to be a “missional” church planter. He explains how to understand the current culture and some of the different church planting models. One of his key points is to understand the difference between an attractional church plant and an incarnational church plant. Therefore, all of his suggestions about how to go about the church planting process have this distinction in view. Missional churches “desire to show the love and care of Jesus Christ in [their] contexts and be Jesus there” (162). Continue reading