Lately my community has been discussing the form and function of "church". We come from various backgrounds with numerous experiences and all of that leads to preferences and those aren't a bad thing. However, when people confuse their preference or even their traditional experiences with God's will or God's intent...in effect "Christianizing" their preferences or opinions it becomes rather divisive and dysfunctional. Such an event happened this week when a guest to the group became overly assertive over an issue. Listing my preferences here wouldn't help this move ahead so I will simply list some observations compiled by Frank Viola regarding what the churches in the Bible did.
They met regularly in homes. Acts 20:20, Romans 16:3, I Cor 16:19
They took communion as a full meal. I Cor 11:21-34
Their church gatherings were open and participatory. I Cor 14:26, Hebrews 10:24-25
Spiritual Gifts were employed by each member. I Cor 12-14
They genuinely saw themselves as family and acted accordingly. Galatians 6:10, I Timothy 5:1-2, Romans 12:5, Ephesians 4:15, Romans 12:13, 2 Cor 8:12-15
They had a plurality of elders to oversee the community. Acts 20:17, I Timothy 1:5-7
They were established and aided by itinerant apostolic workers. Acts 13-21 and all of the Apostolic Letters
They were united and did not denominate themselves into separate organizations within the city. Acts 8:1, Acts 13:1, Acts 18:22, Romans 16:1, Thess 1:1
They did not use honorific titles. Matthew 23:8-12
They did not organize themselves hierarchically. Matthew 20:25-28, Luke 22:25-26
My PREFERENCE would be that the idea of church return to these rather organic roots and completely abandon the more institutional model...I guess the real question for any community of believers is how God may be moving them in their gatherings.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.