Isnít it time we returned to biblical practices in our churches? John Piper has noted:
So even though growth and upbuilding are from Christ, the head, it is the whole body that builds the body. And the word "whole" is important. The whole body builds the body. That point is emphasized in the words, "according to the working of each individual part." The whole body -- that is, each individual part in the body properly functioning -- causes the growth of the body. Now I ask you, where and how does that happen in your corporate church life? Can we ever create enough programs that every person would be involved using some particular gift? Thatís probably not even the right question to ask. Isnít it more likely that Paul envisions a kind of regular gathering of the body in groups small enough so that every member of the body can minister to others with his own unique spiritual gifts?
As I have written elsewhere:
Godís idea of the church is utterly different from ours. And it is high time we reported to His headquarters for His pattern. Religious activity is not synonymous with spirituality. The church at Ephesus proved that (Rev 2:1-7). One suspects that we are turning our attention to ďseekersĒ partly to hide our embarrassment at not knowing what to do as church. It is a humiliating time when Christians should be red-faced with shame rather than strutting about with ďsuccess.Ē
Apparently the early church shared the bread and cup as part of a weekly communal meal that included the Lord's Supper. Do we?
It seems churches were led by a plurality of co-equal elders (also called pastors and overseers) in an arrangement that was completely non-hierarchical. Do our current church structures match that?
New Testament baptism was done immediately upon conversion (with no time lapse or "membership classes"). How faithful are we to this pattern?
The New Testament teaches that all giving except that required to run the government (Matt 22:15-22; Rom 13:1-7) is to be purely voluntary (2 Cor 9:6-7). Should we, then, insist that believers tithe?
For the first three hundred years of the church's existence, it met almost exclusively in private homes as opposed to large buildings designed especially for religious services. To speak of a church "building" is deceptive since, according to the New Testament, God's "building" is not a pile of bricks but the people of God. Why, then, do many of our churches have larger budgets for buildings and grounds (that are used only once or twice a week) than for missions and people-oriented ministries? Somehow the church of the first two centuries managed not only to survive but to thrive without the benefit of a church sanctuary. Just thinkóno mortgages, utility bills, grounds upkeep, or property taxes! Isnít it obvious that our traditions have distorted this clear pattern of Scripture?
This page contains articles on the New Testament church. They deal with such issues as:
Do I have all the answers to these questions? Do you? Of course not. However, the New Testament is not silent on these issues. You may not agree with everything (or anything!) posted here (I don't agree with everything myself), but I hope these essays will help you explore the issues afresh and anew. Let us ask ourselves, "Are there any practices or traditions to which every church should adhere because they are binding on us as apostolic traditions?" "Are there patterns for church life in the New Testament that are not merely descriptive but prescriptive?" I believe the answer to both of these questions is yes. Moreover, if we are honest with ourselves, my guess is that we will be forced to conclude that many of our current practices not only cause our churches to function in a way that is different from what the New Testament teaches, but completely alien to it.
The basic issue here is ultimately what the New Testament says, not what you or I may think is right or what our denomination's traditions are. Above all, God's Word must be held up as the only inerrant authority on all that is said or done in the church. After all, it's His church.
Here you will find links on the following topics:
Just click on the links to begin your study of the New Testament church. I will be adding essays from time to time, so come back often. And feel free to suggest any links you think should be added.
(Perfunctory disclaimer: The citation of a work should not necessarily be viewed as an endorsement. In the words of the apostle John, "You have an anointing from the Holy One ... and have no need that any man should teach you" [1 John 2:20, 27]. Let us learn what we can from men, but look only unto Jesus, the Truth [John 14:6].)
ABCs of Church Reformation
Easter and Christmas
Meeting of the Church
Priesthood of Believers