Wednesday, October 14, 2009

structure of the local church

One question I've been wrestling with since I've been at Moody is what the local church in America should look like. Since being here I've received some opposition towards the way Grace does church in Clarksville. I've gotten lots of questions like: Do small groups provide accurate means for discipleship? Is the governmental structure too corporate, and as a result too secular? Do topical messages truly teach the Bible? Should the environments be tailored for believers or non-believers?

Honestly this has made me question a lot of the ministry principles I've learned the last few years. Last week at Catalyst Chuck Swindoll made a cool statement about church structure.

"We must be willing to leave the familiar methods without disturbing the Biblical message."

In other words, the method should not be unwavering, the message should be. The church should be structured in a way that reaches people without changing the message of Christ.

The problem, however, is that a lot of the modern church models are being attacked for their lack of Biblical basis. Questions arise over whether or not these new models are holding firmly to the New Testament's teaching. Today at Missions Conference a missionary from eastern Europe made this statement, "Our experience of church is not based solely on Biblical teaching."

Every church has a system and structure. That system is never FULLY Biblical, because the Bible doesn't fully describe what the system should look like. Therefore, anytime a church clings to a system, they are clinging to a man-made idea.

Here's where I currently land on the issue of church structure/systems:
There is no perfect system, BUT some do work better than others.

It is generally accepted to do church differently in other countries because of culture, so why should it be critiqued when the American local church creates a system to better appeal to culture? Craig Groeschel says it this way, "To reach people no one else is reaching, you have to do things no one else is doing."

Our ministries should be designed to make the message of Christ as relevant as possible. If that means the structure of the local church in America needs to change, then let's change it.