What defines a “New Testament church”?

I read a post on another blog today that lists “15 essential steps for changing traditional churches into New Testament churches.”

I’m going to list all 15 here because I really want your comments. However, in order to give credit where it is due, let me make it clear that these are not mine. In fact, I’d really like you to visit the original post so you can read the comments there and find out about the creator of this list.

The original post is here. Another blog (with more comments) linking to that post is here.

1. Replace professional clergy with Priesthood of all Believers with authority to baptize, break bread and equip fishers of men. (1 Peter 2:9)

2. Replace Church building with “House of Peace.” (Luke 10:5-9; Matt. 10:11-13)

3. Replace programmed Sunday service with daily informal gatherings. The Bride of Christ must have intimacy with her Lord every day and not just for a couple of hours a week lest she become unfaithful. (Acts 2:46-47; Hebrew 3:13)

4. Replace tithing with sharing the enormous financial resources and goodwill available in Christian homes. (Deut. 8:17-18; Acts 5:32-34)

5. Replace the “Crumb and Sip” Holy Communion with simple “Community meals” eaten together with gladness from house to house. (Acts 2:46; 1 Cor 11:20-23)

6. Replace loud music with speaking to each other in psalms and spiritual songs making melody in your heart. (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16)

7. Replace the spectator church to participatory, interactive, prophetic and Missionary sending church. (1 Cor 14:26-31; Acts 13:13)

8. Replace organizational and denominational churches with citywide network of house churches. (Romans 16:3-15)

9. Replace barren church with multiplication. The Bride must not remain barren, but reproduce and fill the earth. (Acts 1: 8; 1 Cor 9: 19-30)

10. Replace submitting to one man – by submitting to each other. We must encourage, comfort, exhort, edify and serve one another. (Galatians 5: 13; Eph. 4: 2, 15)

11. Replace purposeless church with a goal oriented mandate to disciple nations. (Romans 15: 20; Matt. 28: 19)

12. Replace powerless and fruitless church with militants who heal the sick, raise the dead, expel the demons, bind the ‘strongman’ and plunder his possessions. (Matt 11:12, 12:29)

13. Replace all presidents, directors, chairman, secretaries and all the other non-biblical titles with apostles, prophets, and the fivefold ministry gifted elders. Change from a dead organization to living organism. (Eph 4:11; Titus 1:5-9)

14. Replace all Sunday schools, Bible schools, and prayer cells and cottage meetings and call them full-fledged churches. So that they can disciple, baptize, break bread, equip and send missionaries. (1 Cor 16:19; Col 4:15)

15. Replace all selfish goats who are members for hatching, matching and dispatching with sheep who take care of the hungry, thirsty, naked, strangers, sick and the prisoners. (Matt. 25:31-46)

There they are. I would love to hear your thoughts on these. Some of these are pretty charged so:

  • Which are appropriate and which are not? (By “appropriate” I mean not taken out of context to force a point.)
  • Which are cultural and which are timeless?
  • Which are preferences and which are principles?

OK, your turn. Fill up the comments below.

Current Church Growth info

Each year OUTREACH magazine publishes “The Outreach 100” annual report on the largest and fastest-growing churches in America.

In response to this year’s report, Ed Stetzer, from Lifeway Research, has written a great article called “Learning from America’s Largest and Fastest-Growing Churches” that I think you should read. (It took me about 6 minutes to read it thoroughly.)

It ties in nicely with my recent posts on church growth (see parts 1, 2, and 3)  and “Growing Smaller with Groups”.

If you are interested, you can follow these links for Outreach’s 100 Largest Churches and 100 Fastest-Growing Churches.

Will OTCC ever make one of those lists? Don’t know. But I sure hope to impact our community the way some of these churches are impacting theirs. People are being saved. Lives and families are being changed. And that carries over into every other area – business, politics, education – everything.

We’re not playing games here. What we do at OTCC is literally a matter of life and death. What part are you playing to advance God’s kingdom in South Bend?

Vision, Part 8

Aubrey Malphurs defines a vision as “a clear, challenging picture of the future of the ministry as you believe it can and must be” (Aubrey Malphurs, Developing a Vision for Ministry in the 21st Century).

Over several weeks and posts I have laid out the vision that God has given me for Oak Tree Community Church. Here are the eight pieces again (linked back to their original posts if you want to refresh your memory):

  • I envision families living without debt and changing their community by giving generously through the church and saving generously for the future
  • I envision men and women becoming godly church leaders without having to be sent away to a professional institution (such as a seminary)
  • I envision older professionals mentoring younger professionals in how to live godly in the world
  • I envision children learning the fundamental truths for a strong Christian faith in a way that they can never forget in order to intentionally live them
  • I envision growing believers studying the deep things of God together and living them faithfully
  • I envision lost people regularly giving their lives to Christ
  • I envision a congregation intentionally making Christ-followers in their immediate communities and around the world
  • I envision a congregation giving its community a glimpse of heaven on earth

It is clear – it specifically addresses families and money; church leadership; church members not in leadership; children; adults; unbelievers; and our local and global community

It is challenging – there is no way that we can accomplish this on our own or in a short period of time

It affects the future – this is a forever long-term vision for our church; it is not based on me or my time at our church

It can be – because it reflects God’s heart, it is not impossible

It must be – because it reflects God’s heart, he will accomplish it here if we are willing

 

And there is the question: Are we willing – are you willing – to step up and do your part to bring heaven to earth, to lead people to God, to become everything Christ-like, for the rest of your days, until you are finally in his immediate presence one day?

This is where our church is headed. Everyone has an active role in this. There are no bench warmers, no second-string. I hope you come along – not just for a ride – but in active participation in God’s work through his Church. Don’t be left out.