I define the church as the body of believers responding to God in and through community. While obviously limited, this definition serves as a functioning working definition (since we need to function at this point). This definition of church serves as a foundation for much of my ecclesiological convictions.
As pastors we are very quick to define the church as both universal and local when thinking of the church on a macro-scale. This is seen in how we define the church as existing glocally, in regards to the church being made up of everyone who follows Jesus as the Lord, and locally, in regards to the individual communities that exist as the church. My philosophy on small and big church takes this idea, and puts it into use on the local scale.
There are three primary modalities of the local church. A local church exists corporately, in individual communities and as families themselves.
How is this different than most churches? It’s not, it is actually more inclusive. It gives credit and authority to each expression of the church.
When I say I believe a local church exists as a corporate unit, as individual units, and as families, I give credence to each of those units as actually being church. As the Trinity is each fully God, yet God is one. So are these three modalities each fully the church. Remove a member of the Trinity and God is incomplete. Remove a modality of the local church and it also is incomplete (Churches that start with either a MC model or a large gathering model must be aware of their incomplete nature at the beginning stage of their formation). In every level of teaching the equality of the modalities should be pushed, and it should be considered when time and resources are in question. Here are the three modalities of the church:
Home Church (the family)
Main Scriptures for reference (Duet. 6, Eph 5-6, Col. 3)
– Jesus is the Head Shepherd. The Bible is the Authority.
– Husband/Father is lead shepherd (since pastor is a buzzword, lets use the synonym of Shepherd since it is the same, but hasn’t adopted its own meaning). The Wife/Mother is also shephard/pastor, and functions as operations manager if you will.
– The two most important roles in the entire church are in the Home Church. The Mother (manager) and the Father (shepherd). As manager and shepherd these two are responsible for the most important function of the local church: raising children to love the Lord and neighbors as a way of life.
– The lead shepherd is responsible for leading the Home Church on mission.
– The Home Church should function like the church. There should be Bible teaching, communion, prayer, worship, church discipline, service, use of gifts, etc.
– The Home Church functions as a gateway to the other facets of the local church, and the church universal for that matter.
– When it comes to importance, the Home Church is paramount for mission, and paramount for the health of the local church community. It is also the basis for qualification for leadership in other church modalities.
– The Home Church is the primary function for loving and blessing the city in three major functions:
1. It serves as an example for how families should be raised.
2. It holds together the building block of culture.
3. It blesses society with hard-working followers of Christ, who seek to live their lives as a blessing to others.
Community Church (what most churches call
small groups, or what emerging churches refer to as Missional Communities/Simple or House Churches)
Main Scripture References (Acts 2, Eph. 4, Jer. 29)
– Jesus is the Head Shepherd. The Bible is the authority.
– The group leader is the lead shepherd.
– The lead shepherd is responsible for leading the Community Church on mission.
– The Community Church should function like the church. There should be Bible teaching, communion, prayer, worship, church discipline, service, use of gifts, etc.
– Community Church is the primary function of two important functions of the local church:
1. Meeting the needs of individuals and families of the church. When financial, emotional, and relational problems occur, it should be the Community Church that meets needs.
2. Front line mission work of the local church. It is small enough to bring people in to experience the community of God. It also exists at a grass-roots level where it can come together quickly and move effectively in active service to the city.
– Community Church is normally, but not limited to weekly gatherings in homes. The exact expression of said community should be organic.
– Jesus is the Head Shepherd. The Bible is the authority.
– The corporate shepherds – both professional and not – represent the tri-perspectival view of church leadership. There are prophets, priests and kings.
– Corporate shepherds shepherd the various ministries of the church.
– The corporate shepherds are responsible for leading and training people within their various ministries
(ex. The Community Shepherds probably have the largest task in the whole church in regards to training Community
– The Corporate Church should function similar to what we often refer to as “church”. There should be Bible teaching, communion, prayer, worship, church discipline, service, use of gifts, etc.
– Corporate Church is expressed as a meeting of Home and Community Churches. We come to hear from God corporately and respond to God corporately as the body of Christ on mission in Las Vegas and in the world.
– Corporate Church exists as a city on a hill, for all the city to see. They see the church, hear from God’s word and respond to him through lives of worship. Thusly, it is the primary vessel for the local church’s city evangelism.
If comments warrant it, I will happily give a scriptural and experiential basis as well as a vision for what each expression can and should look like.