My apologies to the two of you who occasionally take a look at this blog for not putting anything up for so long.

Now for something new.

For quite some time, I have been struggling to try and define an accurate, biblical doctrine of the Church.  The way we currently “do Church” just seems to be missing something on so many fronts.  The more I study and read, the more I am convinced that the Western Church is far more individualistic than the New Testament pattern.  Just this morning, I ran across a stunning article in “Christianity Today” that scratches where I have been itching for so long.  Joseph Hellerman has written a landmark (in my humble opinion) contribution that every Christian ought to give serious consideration.

He states, “Despite what we know about spiritual growth, nearly all churches in America are characterized by an unwillingness of members to commit themselves deeply to their respective church. For some, it means church hopping; for most, it means keeping the church at arm’s length—that is, living as if the individual’s life is primary and that of the church is secondary. . . The early Christians had a markedly different perspective. Jesus’ early followers were convinced that the group comes first—that I as an individual will become all God wants me to be only when I begin to view my goals, desires, and relational needs as secondary to what God is doing through his people, the local church. The group, not the individual, took priority in a believer’s life in the early church. And this perspective (social scientists refer to it as “strong group”) was hardly unique to Christianity. Strong-group values defined the broader social landscape of the ancient world and characterized the lives of Jews, Christians, and pagans alike.”

It’s a fairly lengthy article, but please take the time to read it entirely.  You can find it here.  Also, I would recommend, Stop Dating the Church by Joshua Harris, The Trellis and the Vine by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne, and Why We Love the Church by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck.  There are other worthy books, but these are the most recent I’ve read and the freshest in my mind in terms of influence.

As far as I can tell, Hellerman’s article offers a clear description of what the Bible calls koinonia, or fellowship.  Without this kind of community, the Church will always be lacking in power, influence, and effectiveness.  My prayer is that I can lead the congregation I serve toward achieving this kind of fellowship.  As I often say, “There is no “I” in Church!”

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