Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What is the church supposed to look like?

I want to thank you all for going on this journey with me as we examined our modern church practices, compared them to how the early church operated, and discovered how each ritual came to be so implanted in our church traditions. It has definitely been interesting! As well as somewhat controversial!  But as I've said before, don't believe me, please do your own research. I recommend Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna, where most of my posts have come from. In that book, they list their references and give more proofs than I was able to share here.

So, we're finally at an end to the series. I hope it has opened your eyes and caused you to question some of the practices you've partaken of your entire life. Many of you have asked me what can we possibly do about it? What should we be doing? Should we call our pastors and tell them what we've discovered? Should we storm out of churches, never to return. Absolutely not!  However, now that you do have this information, God may require you to do something with it. What that might be, is between you and Him. For me, I'm going to pray and seek His guidance and see where He leads me.

We've been rather negative in these posts, so I thought I'd close out the series by listing all the things that a true New Testament church should be, as evidenced from Scripture.

  • The New Testament Church made Jesus central and supreme in all things. He was the head of their church, the object of their worship, and the content of their discussions
  • The early church met in open participatory meetings that had no fixed order or program for the service. No one was a spectator. All believers exercised their gifts to edify one another. There were informal gatherings led by the moving of the Holy Spirit used to build up the believers and bring glory to God
  • The early Christians lived in community. They didn't just met once or twice a week as scheduled but they cared for one another and shared in one another's lives.
  • For 300 years, Christianity was the first and only religion in the world that was devoid of ritual, clergy, and sacred buildings. There was no concept of a "sacred" place or building where they would meet.
  • The early church would never call a building a church or house of God. They were the church
  • The Early Church did not have a clergy. They had traveling apostles who planted and nurtured churches, but these men were not part of a special elevated caste. 
  • Every Christian in the early church possessed different gifts and different functions. Eldering and Shepherding were just two of these functions. They were not special offices and they did not control or run the meetings. They were simply mature believers who cared for the members of the church.
  • In the early church, decisions were made by the entire assembly.
  • The New Testament church did not have programs, rituals, or a top-down chain of command structure. The church was a living, breathing organism, subject to growth and change, just like the bride of Christ!
  • The Early Church did not tithe. They gave according to their ability, not out of guilt, duty or by a certain percentage. The funds were used to help the poor and the apostolic workers who were spreading the gospel. No one received a salary in the church.
  • Early Christians were baptized immediately after conversion. The Lord's supper was a joyful feast that reaffirmed their faith in Jesus and their thankfulness for His sacrifice.
  • The Early Christians did not build Bible Schools or Seminaries. Christian Elders were educated by mature Christians in a sort of on the job training.
  • The Early Christians did not divide themselves into denominations.  Though they met in different homes and were scattered throughout the empire, in their minds, there was only one church and one body of Christ. The unity of the Spirit was well-guarded.
Wow, that's quite a list! You may agree with it, or you may not agree. Either way, I do suggest you go to the source, the New Testament, strip away your predisposed ideas of how church should be, and read and study on your own.  Then pray and sincerely seek to know the truth. For the Lord says that The truth will set you free!


  1. Tues Aug 14th,
    "Morning, MaryLu."
    Thank-you again, for sharing what the Church is 'supposed' to look like. I am in agreement with 'the list'. And while reading through that list, the one that "really" hit me ... was the final comment: "The Early Christians did NOT divide themselves into denominations. .... in their minds, there was only ONE church and ONE body of Christ." Wow ... have we ever strayed away from the original plan of "one church, one body, and being of one mind " !!! Hence, all of the fighting, arguing, and bickering of the Churches today -- believing that their Church is the "right one, and, the one and only to believe" ! Boy, are we ever off track !
    Yes, this series has opened my eyes and mind, to thinking about/seeing things in a new light ... the way Christ wanted His believers (the church) to be. Not a building, but, the followers of Christ themselves.
    Thanks again for sharing, MaryLu.
    Most interesting and insightful !
    Take care, and, God Bless,
    In Him, Brenda Hurley

  2. Thanks for sharing these posts. It's been enlightening and I think it's always good to meditate and consider what we're doing and why. Perhaps many things in our Church need to be reconsidered. But as a living organism, I also believe the Church does change over time. We are obviously not living in the first century in any other area of our lives, and sometimes certain practices were implemented for logical reasons. Not that that means we should get completely off track either of course. MaryLu, I do know you're not knocking these things you've presented here--either all of them in blanket form or any in particular. It's good to think out loud occasionally, which is kind of what I've been doing too. Appreciate the food for thought! Blessings.

  3. Thank you for sharing this information - it has definately generated good discussion and given us all food for thought. God is good, and His truth reigns. :)

  4. Thanks, Ladies, it's been a fun journey and I appreciate you taking it with me.
    Brenda, you're absolutely right about denominations..how it must break God's heart to see such divisions.

    Diane, thanks for understanding. No, I'm not knocking church at all, but I am really starting to rethink the way we are doing some things. Whatever happens, I want to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and be in the will of God. Whatever Jesus wants his church to look like, that's what I want to be.

    Thanks, Caroline!!