What is a church?

Categories: About Us,Community,Mission,Vision

What intrigued me the most in my reading of the 3rd message thread from John (@TheElder) is the world of early church and how that model contrasts so much from what we know today.

John is excited to have heard reports that his friend @Gaius is walking in the truth and loving well. He hears these reports from the traveling pastors that John had been sending out to build up the churches. This was the common practice then; a community of believers would be served by traveling pastors as they grew into maturity and continued their outreach.

4Ps of Church

The concept of the “Church” is defined by 4 basic resources: Pastor, Purpose, Place and People. But the order in which these resources are prioritized has changed since the first century.

In John’s understanding (echoed throughout the New Testament), the church formed out of  the Purpose of the gospel. People would hear the good news and get excited and want to learn more so they could participate in the Kingdom movement of sharing that Story. Pastors would be send through to help them grow in maturity and from that they would build Place; community.

In the first century, the Purpose (gospel) came the People, who were encouraged by Pastors to create Place (Community).

Purpose > People > Pastor > Place

In today’s understanding of the church (echoed in many church planting schools), the Pastor and Place are the first step. The Pastor is given resources and begins to look for a Place to serve as he searches for a Purpose (“We’ll take this neighborhood for Christ!” or, “We’re to disciple the whole family!”). Pastor with Place and Purpose then invites the People to help serve in his vision.

In today’s model, the Pastor provides a Place and develops the Purpose, to which he invites the People to participate at a level that they feel comfortable.

Pastor > Place > Purpose > People

The liability of today’s model is it perpetuates (may as well continue with the P’s!) the perspective that we are attenders. We as the People choose how we provide and participate since the Purpose doesn’t feel like it emerges from us.

In the first century model, it’s the gospel that has ignited the heart so that the people are excited and eager to learn more about the Word. They desire to be coached on how to live it out. And they know they share in the carrying forward of the message.

In today’s model, it’s more about a pastor with charisma, a nice comfortable cool building and creating a “compelling vision,” which implies that the vision of the raw Gospel needs to be updated.

At Restoration, we do use the word “Story” to encompass the “whole gospel.” Only because, Story is the framework of scriptures and “gospel” is most often used to describe the works of Christ without the understanding of how that event fits into the total history of humanity.

So our call to Know, Live and Share the Story isn’t a Purpose that the Pastor conceived, KLS is really just basic discipleship and that should be more than enough to raise our hearts to desire to grow and for community to form.

Learn more through our message entitled “Church Life” which is part of our Face-to-Face Series out of 2 & 3 John.


Author: Simon Guevara