6 Lies We Believe About the Church

One hundred religious persons knit into a unity by careful organization do not constitute a church any more than eleven dead men make a football team. The first requisite is life, always.“- A. W. Tozer

1. Church is optional. Ah, the lone believer, hell-bent on staying out of a church community for one reason or another. They were burned, chastised, or mistreated. And I get it. I, too, was a solo “Christian” trying to call a 5-minute quiet time and a snippet of scripture “church.” I know what it is to be community-less and long for (but never actually believe it could happen) a spiritual family, where brethren would lay down their life for one another–reminiscent of the book of Acts.

Oh yeah, but then, through a series of painful life-altering events (another post for another time), I came to see that church was not optional because, I was, in fact, the church. When scripture refers to the church as “the house of God,” “the Body of Christ,” “Christ’s bride,” it is referencing a people. The ekklesia, in Greek. It is not a place or a building, which leads me to…

2. We go to church. Those in the church, have long believed that we go to church. But, as stated above,  if we are the church, then this can’t actually be true. We don’t actually go to church on Sunday. What we do instead, is assemble where other members of the church happen to be, and we usually sit in a pew and listen to someone preach from the pulpit. This is not church. You are the church.

3. The church exists to reach the lost and unsaved. It was not so long ago that the Lord really clarified this point for me. In the Christian culture of “doing social justice,” “living missionally,” and “loving the unlovely,” it becomes easy to view the church as a vehicle in which to reach the unsaved.

However, this is not the primary function or purpose of the church. The church exists for the believer–to equip, edify, and empower the saints. To manifest the body and life of Jesus Christ. I know this might rub some people the wrong way, but if so, I encourage you to re-examine the scriptures. You may be surprised. I was.

4. A small group or Bible study is a perfectly acceptable replacement for “church.” Oh, I fell hard for this lie. I remember pastors enthusiastically telling me that if I had to choose between Sunday morning service and my weekly small group, I was to choose the latter. My small group, as it was explained  to me, was actually church.

Those pastors…they were trying. What they meant, or should have meant, was that a small group was more like church. But there was one big problem. We wrongly think that…

5. Hanging out with a group of individuals, just like us, is church. Sadly, what small groups, home groups, and many Bible studies have taught people is that a group of our peers gathered together is church. When Jesus refers to the “family of God,” I don’t think a twenty-somethings Wednesday night fellowship/hangout/thing is what He had in mind.

Families are made up of all kinds of people in all stages of life. There are moms and dads, brothers and sister, infants, cousins and even a few loud-mouthed crazy uncles (you know who you are). Church is, and should be, all of us. All the time.

6. We must grow the church. In the consumer-driven, “bigger is better” culture we find ourselves, many Christians have come to falsely believe that it is our responsibility to build the church. We think that we do the growing. But, 1Corinthians 3 teaches that, while some of us plant and others water, it is God who causes it to grow. We are “coworkers belonging to God,” allowed to fully in building His church. God is responsible…and I find that comforting.

Do you agree of disagree with my list? Have you fallen for any of these lies about church? What would you add to the list? Let’s hear it!

57 thoughts on “6 Lies We Believe About the Church”

  1. I agree with your points. I’ve been coming to many of these realizations recently. I’ve started actively avoiding telling people that I’m “going to church”. Instead, I tell them I’m going to the proper name of the place where I gather to learn a little more, gather some strength and perspective, and share with others. I am part of the church wherever I happen to be at all times. Nice post.

    1. John,
      You make a good point. On the one hand, we might believe it’s all semantics, but words hold meaning. It may seem like a small thing to stop saying we are “going to church,” but it is the motivation and truth behind it that have impact. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Great list, Nicole! #2 “We go to church” is truly a huge lie. This mentality causes us to view the Body as a “thing” and not as our faith community. Then when the music style changes or we have a guest preacher, the “thing” changes and it’s not “our” church anymore. Thanks for encouraging us to remember that the church is the Lord’s idea to further His Kingdom and it is a dynamic place meant to grow by His grace … where we too are meant to grow. :-)

  3. It wasn’t until guys like DL Moody and Billy Graham made such an impact that church culture made such a big deal about evangelism. Not that it’s bad at all, but the result was that the gathering of believers became “seeker friendly” tools for sharing the Gospel. I don’t have a problem with giving opportunity for those who haven’t heard but its not the main goal either. No wonder we have so many Christians drinking milk.

    Also, I totally agree with your last point. If the Spirt is moving, people will be drawn to it. No need for special tactics and strategies to increase numbers.

    1. Tony,
      Great and interesting point you raise. I can think of nowhere in scripture that supports the “seeker friendly” philosophy. Making disciples is radically different from holding a seeker-friendly Sunday service.

      And amen and well-said to you second point! No tactics needed, indeed.

      1. Oh man, my head is about to explode. I disagree with two of my favorite bloggers :). I’m writing. It’s coming. It’ll be fun. Can’t wait to hear from you guys.

  4. Overall great list. I especially love the last three.

    I’d only quibble w #3. Why does it have to e either/or? I agree that encouraging and edifying the believer is important, but there’s so much biblical mandate sendin the Church into the world, from Israel’s call to be a Kingdom of Priests in Exodus 19 to the light on a hill in Matt 5 and great commission in Matt 28 to Jesus’ sending in Acts to his missional language in John 15 (and the Johanine epistles) to Paul calling is ambassadors for Christ to John’s prophetic call in Rev 10 and the Two Witnesses in Rev 11.

    It’s a strong enough Biblical theme it’s not something we should discount or ignore.

    I haven’t read your linked posts yet. If you address these sorts of texts there, apologies :)

    1. JR,
      To be clear, I don’t say (or believe for that matter) that the church doesn’t need to reach those who are yet to know Jesus. Of course not. I love the passages you reference and I agree! However, I do not think that evangelism is the primary function of the church.

      Lately, Jon and I have been discussing how what we see in scripture is not Christians trying to “get people into church,” so much as those outside the Church, trying to get in.

      Acts 2:46-47 tells us that “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

      People outside saw what was happening inside and desired to a part. Yes, the Spirit was moving. yes, the apostles were working. But I am beginning to think that what people were most attracted to was a spiritual family devoted to one another, meeting each others physical needs, in love and truth.

      But, as you mention, I address a lot of this in my linked posts. It’s The Purpose of the Church, Part 1 and Part 2. Not a plug for you to read more, I’m just tellin’ ya…. :)

      1. “But I am beginning to think that what people were most attracted to was a spiritual family devoted to one another, meeting each others physical needs, in love and truth.”

        You sound like Jonathan. This is good, for how can two walk together except they be agreed? ;)

      2. Word.

        I got a chance to read the other two posts and I get what you’re saying. Our efforts shouldn’t be on “programming” to get people into a building (or house church or whatever). If we’re truly caring for the least of these, our numbers will grow, etc. etc.

        I think a large part of my response grew out of growing up in churches that were social clubs. The people would say “Church is for us insiders” not with words, but actions.

        Of course, I know you and I would agree that they weren’t actually embodying the Gospel, and I get that’s not at ALL what you’re saying in your posts.

        1. You make a good point about churches that are social clubs. What’s interesting is that some of these social club churches do focus on a brand of “evangelism” — we’ll let you join if you look and act like us, and we’ll even show you how. It perpetuates the insider/outsider feel.

          On the other end of the spectrum is the seeker friendly, “I’m okay you’re okay” approach. In both cases, the focus is more on the people instead of God.

          If the members of Christ’s Body actually meet with Him corporately, not just have “church,” we will be changed, and others will be changed as a result. We can’t be in Christ and not have it impact the way we relate to others. Abiding bears fruit as a matter of course.

        2. JR,
          Totally get it and yes, we agree.

          Know what’s cool? You said “I know you,” and you do! And I love that. So thankful for the time we were able to spend at Catalyst. You and Amanda rock!

  5. I am arriving at the same conclusions and it is so liberating and a huge relief. However, we are not currently “going” to church and feel adrift, seeking community.

    1. Sally,
      I have been there–wondering in the wilderness, as it were. While God uses the time for His purposes, I am praying that He does not leave you there long, but brings you into a spiritual family where you are empowered and integral. Praying too for peace, hope, and joy in the interim.

  6. First and foremost, the original intention of God was to build Himself a dwelling place in and tfrough His people…by the Spirit. I believe Ephesians 4:11-16 is integral to that and critical in this hour. It is a portion of the Word that has been reduced by so many (missional/mainstream) leaders, de-emphasizing and thus damaging the means of God to build up His church and bring it into maturity, forming Christ in His body (Gal.4:19). And the casualties, both in the increase of “child leaders” and the absence of genuine, spiritually equipped believers is mounting. However, I believe this portion of Scripture IS being recovered. This portion of the Word HAS to be recovered…

    1. Jim,

      I openly agree with and say Amen to your words. Nicely said, brother. Without The Spirit, in all His Glory and Power, local churches are merely gatherings of folks who get the crumbs that fall from the Master’s Table. I much prefer to be sitting at the table, in the chair He has prepared for me. Would that we could all take our places, and stop quenching His Spirit due to fear, reticence, and man-made doctrines.

    2. Jim,
      Yes! And just a little earlier in Ephesians 2: 22, we are told “In Him, you are also being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”

      I agree with you and believe that God is restoring this Truth, here and now. I pray the Spirit will move mightily…

  7. I enjoy your blog and @MattTCoNP’s because it challenges me to think beyond the surface and sometimes call into question ideas I’ve naively accepted at face value.

    I’ve seen others use 1 & 2 as an excuse to avoid church and I could sense their reasoning was off.

    #3 really resonates with me. Sometimes I feel like the church (as an organization & building, not necessarily the Church) is so focused about filling the auditorium and reaching new people that the saints already in the seats are ignored. This is dangerous because complacency can take root in their faith.

  8. Nicole,

    Have I told you lately how refreshing you are to The Body? You are at times like that lone voice of spiritual reason and blatant sonship. I appreciate you, and I believe you when you speak of Kingdom Matters, or as I like to say, Family Business. I believe you. I have no need to reference volumes of Christian thought to nitpick your words and measure you. I believe you without the need to dissect you.

    Now then, as to your points.
    1. Church is not optional.
    If by ‘church’ you mean the gathering of believers and the fellowship of the saints, I agree. No lone ranger Christianity has ever flourished or remained healthy in and of themselves. We are called to not forbid gathering together. Now, if this means attending a local ekklesia as in “First Church of Phoenix”, or merely gathering together with like-minded and Spirit-led people in our living rooms is the question. Communing with the family through Christ is indeed NOT optional. The vehicle for this communing is inconsequential.

    2. We go to church.
    My brother, Wayne, this weekend said to me, “I bring The Church when I enter the building.” I couldn’t have said it better myself! We are The Church, and wherever we go, She goes. We cannot separate ourselves from this, and surely we cannot force it to happen simply because we attend a meeting on Sunday morning in a rented, leased, or mortgaged building/store front/shed.

    3. The Church exists to reach the lost and unsaved.
    Churches, no matter how strongly The Spirit moves in them, cannot save. Only Jesus saves. It is much better to invite people into our lives, not to our churches. The Church, being built by Jesus, is a living breathing organism, but She is not designed to save mankind. Salvation comes first. Membership into The Church comes after. Not the other way around.

    4. A small group or a Bible study is a replacement for church, and
    5. Hanging out with a small gathering of people like us is church.
    I disagree, only on the premises that wherever two or more are gathered in the Name of Jesus, there He is, AND also looking at 1 Corinthians 14:26, which gives the list of things that should happen when we gather together. If you, Jonathan, and I get together in the flesh, The Spirit comes along and Jesus is in attendance. If that isn’t The Church, I don’t know what is.
    In 1 Corinthians 14:26, you know the list presented of what should happen when believers come together. Nowhere does it say this gathering must be formalized. Again, if you, Jonathan, and I were to come together, I would expect there to be a manifestation of The Spirit in accord with 1 Corinthians 14:26, so that all of us could be edified. This can take place anywhere. I see no need for it to be formalized.

    6. We must grow The Church.
    We could if indeed The Church was designed to be evangelical. But She wasn’t. So no, we cannot, in and of ourselves, grow The Church. Jesus said He was building it. Not us. Never us. Only Him. Agreed. This lines up with the myth that we are doing things FOR Jesus, as though He were incapable of doing for Himself. To this day, since the beginning, He has always been doing for us, not the other way around. We do things because of Him. Big difference.

    Thanks for listening! You seem to be able to bring out the talker in me! ;)

  9. This post reminds me of a quote a friend of mine said once “A church that becomes inward focused, instead of outward focused, goes from being mission senders to a mission field”

    We can’t just “do church” for church’s sake which it seems like a lot of these lies are based on. It’s hard to “do church” when you have the thought of being the church instead of just showing up to church. It’s a hard tension to live in but one that also brings great freedom.

  10. Great post Nicole! as always, we follow you in Southamerica too! …. and I agree with the unapologetic profet coments.

  11. Very convicting post Nicole! I think the point that hit me most is the one you raise in Lie #1, “the church is not optional”. You raise a good point about the oxymoron that is “solo Christianity.” I have been reflecting on the dangers of this not just in as personal, but as congregational “solo Christianity.”

    I must confess, that as a church planter I tend to think that my local congregation of believers and congregations that have similar expressions of “church” have a monopoly of Christ’s approval because we are the “true church.” I look at churches that are different and refuse to partner, learn from, and love them.

    But if Christ prayed for the unity and love of all who believe in him, then the universal church has a lot of relying on the Holy Spirit to help us paint that picture. Christ’s church is universal, a community of people from all times and all places. No matter how strong my local community seems to be, it is weak if I do not love Christ’s universal community. Being a solo christian is dangerous, but being a solo congregation is just as dangerous.

    Thanks for the reminder. I appreciate it mucho!

  12. This is silly. The church is a business. A charity business maybe, but a business none the less. The larger the organization the bigger the business. Catholic Church owns and controls private businesses and land yet expects people to tithe. Mormons actually sit down and audit you to ensure you’re not skimping on the contributions. Et all.

    Big or small it’s a business. A business where we pay someone to save our souls.

    Please post a picture of your church if you disagree. I am guessing it is decorated with rich hardwoods, gilded gaudiness, expensive windows. It probably sports some over excessive sized cross. But more importantly, it has billboard signs like some cheap flea market or fast food restaurant.

    I do believe in what religion has done for man (all of the Abraham based ones like Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). But to say to save my souls I must got to a business that costs 5-10% of my income? Sounds like a scam

    1. James,
      On the whole, I agree with you. Most American churches are run just like businesses. There are practical and legitimate as well as impractical and wrong reasons for doing so.

      I can’t send you a picture of my church, however, because my church is not a building. My church is a group of people. We actually have no building. We have no head pastor, except Jesus Christ. We don’t meet on Sundays. We meet through the week, like a family does. We all equip, empower, serve, and instruct one another. We eat together, hang out together, worship together but there is no “service” no “program” and no “agenda” except that which God has for us.

      I’m the part of an organic church. If you’re interested in reading more you can check out these posts:

      http://modernreject.com/2011/07/the-organic-church-model/
      http://modernreject.com/2011/07/the-buffet-vs-the-potluck/

      Also, check out Frank Viola’s blog. He is a kind of fore thinker on the subject and he’s brilliant and full of God’s wisdom:

      http://frankviola.org/2010/10/20/visiting-an-organic-church-a-firsthand-report/#more-3036

  13. I would have to disagree with the small group thing. Because our small group isn’t all alike, and we have people from all walks of life, in different stages of their faith, it is church. It’s the opportunity to reach out, get deep, even if it means others get offended because they’re not as far in their walk. It’s being with the church.

    1. Sundi Jo,
      Yes, if your small group is representative of the Body as a whole that is something different. That is fellowship and studying with the saints. What I am more so referring to, on this point, which I didn’t go into in the actual post–is the idea that just like Sunday service, people often think that checking in to a once a week small group is church. It’s not.

      Church life is shared life, as Frank Viola says. Church life is living in and among the saints, as a spiritual family devoted to one another. In my experience, most small groups are not this. If yours is, however, you are blessed and hold fast to that family.

  14. I so appreciate a Truth article, Nicole. I’ve watched people leave church and cease to grow, which, as an equipper, concerns me. I know I need pastors, teachers, evangelists, prophets, and others in my life. It is where the “called out ones” come together on a regular basis that I will find them.

    I’ve wondered how James would have counseled such people who left his Jerusalem church in the first century. I think he might have used your words.

  15. #3 – RIGHT ON… We see more evidence that believers joined a community of like minded believers. The lost were not invited to join the community in a effort to convert them! Believers were encouraged to go into their communities and preach the gospel 1st part, 2nd part was to make disciples. Great post!

  16. #3 is interesting. i believe that roles of the church include but are not limited to serving the needy, seeking justice, and loving on folks. this would speak to the church as each member of the body, individually, i think.

    i also think the church, corporately, exists for precisely the reason you’ve given. i can’t say right this second whether i think it’s the Primary reason because i haven’t stopped to study the Word ~ as you have so wisely encouraged.

    i believe the church has many roles and purposes. i appreciate your emphasis on what may easily be a forgotten/overlooked/de-empasized purpose. maybe we’ve been overcompensating for those years past when the church was accused of being too self-involved.

    1. for the record, i would delete or re-write my comment if i could. i’m not sure i’ve been reading closely enough and i’m not sure that i even understand what i said. :)

  17. I think #6-to grow the church, isn’t the mega churches we now have, but means more along the lines of “The Church”. We are instructed to make disciples of ALL nations, that grows the church.

    1. Stacy,
      I would agree but point out that our motivation should be different. We desire to see more people come to know Jesus Christ. We desire to see God’s will on earth as it is in heaven. We desire to see His Kingdom come. But our motivation isn’t necessarily to “grow the church,” as it were. We can’t be numbers focused. We must be Kingdom focused.

  18. In regards to #3 –

    In one of the posts you linked to, you mention Ephesians 4:11-12 which says,

    “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…”

    Looking at this passage, I think the question of whether reaching the lost is part of the _purpose_ of the church, depends on how we understand the phrases “building up the body of Christ,” “unity of faith,” and “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” I haven’t studied this passage enough to know for certain, but it seems like a possibility that these phrases could include the enfolding of new believers as well as strengthening existing believers. (Depending on the original language, they also may not.)

    John 13:35 may also support that idea though: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

    Whether we can call it a “purpose” of the church, I think it’s clear that Jesus’ plan for reaching the world is through his disciples who are recognized by their love for one another (something that can only happen in the context of the church body).

    As always, thanks for prompting some more thought on this!

  19. I’m currently going through a season of trying to discover a way of expressing church that I can find peace with (I emphasize “expressing church” because whether we all see eye-to-eye or not, we are the bride of Christ, aka the Church).

    I’m quite fed up with the western version of doing church with its superstar pastors and rock star worship leaders. And even in the traditional church I just don’t find much richness, joy, or peace.

    I also don’t like Frank Viola’s expression of church. I’ve only read one of his books, but it seems he leans upon secondary sources that support his opinions. I’m personally working through the long list of writings by the apostolic fathers and there are several parts that run very contrary to the western and Viola ways of expressing church.

    Right now I am worshiping at a Russian Orthodox assembly (part of the Eastern Orthodox Church). It has been a bit of a culture shock, but much of it has been very in line with what the Bible says and what the disciples of the disciples (aka the Church Fathers) have written. They’d probably agree with you on all points except #2, in which they would half agree. Their reasoning is that the Church is both visible and invisible. And as much as it challenges me, when I stop to listen to them I find that most of what they say makes sense.

    Have you had any experience with Eastern Orthodoxy, Nicole?

  20. I agree! Number four is what I heard ALL THE TIME when I was attending a megachurch here in Birmingham, AL. I’m still not satisfied with exactly where I am but I am getting closer.

  21. Also, in early 1999 I had gotten frustrated with church and started investigating Roman Catholicism. After more than a year of study through their RCIA (rite of Christian initiation for adults), I was confirmed in the Catholic church at Easter 2000. All my children were baptized in the Catholic church. Even though I am no longer a practicing Catholic, I really appreciate the structure the Catholic church gave me and use it to this day.

    1. Dusti,
      I can appreciate that. My family is Catholic, although only nominal with the exception of my grandmother. I have a real love, appreciation, and respect for the holiness and reverence felt within some of the Catholic practices.

  22. Nicole . . . Thanks for stating the reality of Christ being expressed in and through His people. It is a beautiful Bride, isn’t it!? Once you taste of His leadership and His expression, there is no substitute, no matter how shiny and packaged and performed it is.

    Thankful to be on this journey with you in the Body of Christ. Press on, sister. There are a cloud of witnesses around you who are also with you. They cheer you as you express Christ in the way He has gifted you to function. The applause is loud, and eternal.

    May people continue to be directed to our Source.

  23. I very much liked this, and have to say I totally Agree. I’m hesitant to add one thing, for fear of people taking it the wrong way… But I will….And that is… The Lie That people ‘go to church to worship God’ … I grew up watching many ‘worship practices’ and many rehearsed songs, actions, even little dances and chants now and then. My family had to show up an hour early every Sunday and then spend another hour later in the month, just to get enough ‘worship practice’ in so that the ‘worship team’ could ‘lead people in worship, without messing up’. I truly believe that many have lost sight of what True Worship is. Since when should our worshiping be practiced? Since when should worshiping our God look like a planned out concert? I don’t believe this is what true worship looks like and I don’t believe that our Loving God feels worshiped by it. I think people need to back up and truly read the scriptures and learn how they can worship God from their own hearts, and find out what the true meaning of worship really is.

    1. Katie,
      You are so right. I’m surprised no one added this point earlier and I’m glad you were brave enough to do so. You said “I truly believe that many have lost sight of what True Worship is.” Such wisdom and truth. Thanks for commenting Katie!

  24. Lets remember that in Matthew 28:19,20, Christ tells us to “go, and make disciples, teaching them to obey all I have commanded,” including making disciples. Attending church, Sunday school, nor small groups does not a disciple make.

  25. I love your writing. You take so many of the things that I think but would write about in satirically and make it accessible to everyone, whether they get satire or not.

    Referencing number 3- I have said for years that a church service was a strategy meeting for ministry that happens outside. At time for “family” to get together and refresh and make plans to touch those other folks, out there. There’s more to it than I’ve written here but that’s the basic idea.

  26. I have a hard time with #4. For one, the early church was merely people who believed in Christ gathering together to learn and share. In areas heavily physically persecuted, small groups are the only way to meet, and the Chinese Christian community is thriving under that.

    For another, is, in order to validate #4, you apply #5. “But there was one big problem. We wrongly think that…” One can infer from that statement, that if that problem didn’t exist, or could be solved, then the previous issue wouldn’t be an issue; therefore, at least, acceptable. Following that logic, #4 shouldn’t be an issue without #5, so, shouldn’t they be considered one point, or “lie,” rather than two? If it was worded similar to “Meeting with a group of individuals just like us, in a Bible study or small group, is a perfectly acceptable replacement for ‘church,'” would be a much more valid point, in my opinion.

    Part of my issue with you stating #4 is that I am currently part of a house “church.” (On a side note, more and more I wish there was a different word for the gathering vs. bride of Christ) Being with this diverse group of people (My wife and I are the youngest, we have blue collar and white collar, a wide age spread, and even some different philosophies) has done more in a year for my walk with our Lord than several years in an institution. This setting I am part of now is definitely a suitable form of gaining spiritual wisdom from the scriptures, and there are many evidences to show for it. To say this is a “lie” almost seems damning to this group God has placed me in, and performed miracles in.

    Scrolling down the comments, I see that you are also part of an “organic church.” To anyone in the institutional church looking into the organic, it looks very much like the face value of your bolded statement in #4. Following the links in one of your replies, I see that we do try to follow the same “format.” (for the lack of better terms) #4 without #5 almost seems like you are contradicting yourself, bringing larger problems to calling ti a lie. You have taken into a smaller setting yourself, and have left the institutional format behind for now, and to anyone outside looking in, you’ve condemned yourself to this “lie.”

    Please understand I do not mean to come across as rude, but this is where the logical conclusion of applying that standalone lie gets me. It becomes a struggle, not just internally, but in how I witness to others around me.

    tl;dr I see flawed logic in #4, in lack of definitions, and seemingly being wholly dependent on #5, therefore not a lie in and of itself.

    1. Ben,
      Thanks for your comment and questions. Since I am part of an organic church, then yes, you can conclude that I am not opposed to “small group” gatherings. My point in #4 was not that people shouldn’t gather in small groups (The book of Acts is a clear indication that this is how people in the early church gathered). My point was that people often gather in small homogenous groups–where everyone is often just like them and/or in the same stage of life. This is not church, at least not the full representation of what church can be.

      Church is and should be, I believe, a representation of all people that make up the body–young, old, mature, new, single, married, and everything in between. Otherwise, we are sort of hanging out in fellowship groups that meet once a week with a lot of people just like us. My other point in #4 was that church is not a weekly meeting. Church life is shared life.

      People checking in on Sunday mornings at a traditional church or checking in on Wednesday nights at a home fellowship group isn’t that much different. It is when we live and share our messy, complicated, daily lives with one another everyday that we begin to experience more of the fullness of church life. We should look and act like a family, not a weekly meeting. Thoughts?

      1. Ok, I see the point now, and fully agree. A once a week metting still allows you to look and feel good about your spiritual life, while doing nothing about it the rest of the week. You’re definitely right on that.

  27. Good nuance in this list.

    Lately I’ve been thinking about church like water. Water can be solid, liquid, or vapor, but it’s chemical composition is the same in each form.

    Perhaps the church can take these different forms based on God’s work in particular community at a particular time. God can firm up his church when he wants it to be a solid, explicit presence in a community, or it can be a fluid or vapor when necessary to better reach a community.

    God demonstrates his wisdom in variety.

    1. Joel,
      Well-said and I agree. I have come to think of the different types of churches as the extended expression of Christ. Since Jesus is infinite, it follows that there would be an infinite number of ways to express Him. The organic church I am a member of is simply one way, for example.

      Thank you for your thoughtful and insightful comment.

  28. Hi Nicole, I just subscribed to your blog (through a recommendation on a Frank Viola blog). I think I may be older than a lot of your subscribers, but there’s something about the spirit of your words that comes through the screen that is very refreshing. I’m a pastor. At this time in my ministry of over 40 yrs, I “do church” very differently than I did for the first 35. I currently pastor a faith community in a large vegetarian/vegan coffee shop downtown. That’s by design. Not because there’s no where else to meet. The example of the church, I believe, needs to lived out in uncommon places. Not so much for “traditional evangelistic purposes.” I agree with your statement on that. For “real life” purposes. I was praying the other day about the next location for expanding The Sanctuary (my church)…not to leave downtown but to expand. I believe the Lord responded to me with the question, “Do you want to establish another church or an interactive, creative community?” I know He wasn’t challenging the validity of His own organism, but what the definition has become. Words have meanings to people, and sometimes I think it’s good to examine – what has become – “christianeze.” Church is not a chrisianeze word from Biblical definition, but our perception of what it’s supposed to look like to be legit has since the time of Constantine. I’m very much looking forward to reading more by you little sista.

    1. Gary,
      Thank you so much for introducing yourself. You words ring true and echo much of my own heart. What a simple yet powerful question the Lord posed to you, as well: “Do you want to establish another church or an interactive, creative community?” I could write an entire blog post around that very question.

      I’m blessed to know you found me through Frank. He is a kind brother in the faith and one whom I greatly admire. I look forward to seeing more of you around these parts. Blessings to you and may the Lord abundantly pour out His favor on your church community–for His glory.

  29. You glorify a man who slaughters 18 year old girls. Simply because he said the magic words and has now accepted jebus as his personal savior. He was a born again shit before he slaughtered those fathers’ daughters. But then he reverted to his own ways and became a serial killer. Now he’s a born again christian again and a cult hero at that. And, he doesn’t even understand WHY he SLAUGHTERED his YOUNG female victims.

    Valentina is dead. She was 18 years old and had her whole life of ahead of her. But born again christians like yourself say that “god does not care that Valentina is dead.”

    Seriuosly bitch, you proclaim a Jew child is in HELL and you GLORIFY the man who slaughtered an 18 year old GIRL.

    I hope someday you get your own children murdered so you can get a chance to understand what the victims of the son of sam went through.

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