Note: This article does not provide a fully developed ecclesiology (doctrine of the church) or outline completely all the nuances of a local body of believers. It simply points out foundational truths that must be part of a bibilically faithful local church. If you desire to learn more about the local church, find a biblically faithful assembly, commit yourself, and be there week in and week out!
Does the church exist to spot the landscape with nice buildings and make us feel like we live in a safe community? Does it exist to provide a soapbox for the ideas of a man called “pastor”? Or maybe just as a place people can relax, enjoy themselves, be anonymous, and salve the religious parts of their conscience.
All of the options, along with a myriad more, burrow their way into the fabric of current thinking regarding the church. And that makes sense. When churches begin to be formed from the arbitrary and pragmatic creativity of marketing professionals or taken over by strong personalities seeking to impose a set of standards and regulations, chaos results.
However, a much clearer, multi-cultural, and timeless definition of the church exists. It happens to come from the One Who came up with the plan and executed it perfectly. While the definition of what church remains unchanged, the very nature of it enables effectiveness within every culture at every time.
So what is church?
The Bible defines the church as “the household of the living God” and “a pillar and buttress of truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). Christ claims the title of Chief Architect (Matthew 16:18) and Paul identifies Christ as the cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20; cf. 1 Peter 2:6-8). The church as a whole is an institution the greatest efforts of hell will fail to contain (Matthew 16:18). The church means so much to God that He sent seven messages from heaven to admonish, encourage, warn, and edify local assemblies (Revelation 2-3). If you take the Bible seriously, you quickly find that God takes church seriously.
And if God takes church seriously, surely those He redeemed through the blood of Christ should follow suit.
Church should be done God’s way, not Starbuck’s.
That assumes God has a way.
- God intends church to be Word-centered, not man-centered. (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 4:2)
- God intends church to include public prayer, not public demonstration. (1 Timothy 2)
- God intends song to flow from being Spirit-filled, not flesh-driven. (Ephesians 5:18-21)
- God intends church to change you, not bore or entertain you. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
- God intends church to beautify and strengthen truth, not dilute and cover it. (1 Timothy 3:15)
Taking church seriously means that church maintains these elements as its structure.
Like any skeleton, the church needs flesh. People clothe the structure, giving life and warmth to the God-ordained institution. A church that takes church seriously willingly submits to God’s structure while ministering God’s grace through His people. Like any body, a church existing without the structure will amount to nothing more than a soft mass. Both are essential.
God takes church seriously.
Maybe it’s time for us to look at church the way God does.
Our commitment at Eastside Community Bible Church is to effectively maintain the God-defined purposes of the Church. While we do not claim to do so perfectly, our heart is to constantly work toward what glorifies God by His own definition. We believe that doing so will enable true effectiveness right now, right here!