My Church Post, Part II

All the church adjectives notwithstanding, there are but two kinds, in my estimation. One is what I would consider to be the essential church. By this I mean only those characteristics which make any assembly of people a distinctively Christian one, irrespective of dogma. In matters of doctrine, churches wildly diverge, but in matters of faith they should remain true (Ephesians 4:5). In fellowship they share a bond of responsibility and accountability. They are those called out of the world’s system, its ways, its methods and away from its devices. They are the “ecclesia”, who are called to assemble together unto God and their purpose is to glorify Him.

As for the other, there’s an imitation for every genuine article, though not every imitational church is necessarily a bad thing. Elements of the essential church can be found in an imitational setting, but imitational churches rely on form and hierarchy to be familiar and palatable, hence imitation. In agreeing with author Frank Viola, I believe the church shouldn’t be viewed as an organization but an organism. Organisms live and perpetuate life. Organizations exist to perpetuate the organization, and they stifle life. Imitation is defined as “the assumption of behavior observed in other individuals”. Church organizations imitate structures of human origin. The essential church is God originated, but has not the kind of delineation in scripture which organizations require. Certainly, as Viola point out, a typical contemporary church, an imitational church, would be unfamiliar to a first century Christian. There is very little given in scripture as a guide in defining or establishing church. This, I believe, is intentional as the Lord put believers at liberty in their expression. Imitation becomes a tool of convenience to promote order and uniformity, which church leaders mischaracterize as unity, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post. In an imitational church the focus is on the collective. Attention to individuals within an imitational church is used to provoke imitation of correct behaviour. Individuality is discouraged and sometimes upbraided. Church discipline becomes a measure of the collective good instead of fostering personal growth. Members are taught to submit, contribute in various ways to the whole church, and leave the spiritual guidance to the learned or spiritually experienced. In effect, they are kept immature. People in imitational churches mimic what other imitational churches do, though it may appear they embrace their own peculiar affectations.

Over the past several months I’ve visited several local churches and had the opportunity to consider each. By visit I mean attend one typical Sunday morning service. One such visit is but a cursory look, and it wouldn’t be fair to the people of these congregations to come away with a measure of their devotion to their faith, but I nonetheless found it interesting. In no particular order:

Northwest Christian Church

Watermarke Church

The Church at Gracelife

Fellowship Bible Church

His Hands Church

Passion City Church

Expedition Church

North Metro Church

Calvary Chapel Northwest

Buckhead Church

Life Bible Church

Christ the King Church

The Church at Woodland

…to be continued in Part III

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About elmoshangnaster

The name's a dodge simply because 1) on the internet I can be whomever I choose, and 2) I'm just paranoid enough to keep scoundrels and government out of my business and don't care to sort 'em out from the decent folk. My blog, my opinions. Don't like 'em? Sure, kindly tell me about your far-fetched, idiotic beliefs...kindly. In the end we'll neither of us change the others mind, but I will take the time to read your arguments if they're thought out in a rational fashion and not full of hyperbole. I'm a Christian human being. It's not a flavor or color preference, it's who and what I am. Don't like it? The above considerations apply. I'm not about to waste anyone's time or mine shoving Christianity down their gullet if they demonstrate even the least resistance. When someone's ready to hear I'm only too glad to share. The Gravatar? It's Jenny Lake in the Tetons near Jackson, WY. If God had a house that's where it would be.

Posted on 04/01/2012, in Commentary, Spirituality and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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