Sunday, June 03, 2007

What is the church anyway? part 2

In response to yesterday's post, someone sent me this contribution:

"My working definition goes something like this -
Local Church is:
A community of disciples embodying Jesus

Or more fully: A group of disciples, committed to following Jesus together, who locally form:
-A dwelling for the Holy Spirit
- An expression of God's new community
- An agent for Kingdom transformation

I think these 3 aspects should be complementary and held in creative balance, but in practice one or two often tend to dominate in any given local church.

Very broadly interpreted those groups that see themselves primarily as 'a dwelling for the Spirit' will tend to give major emphasis to worship/prayer; those that see themselves primarily as 'an expression of God's new community' will focus heavily on fellowship/pastoral aspects; and those that view the church as 'an agent for Kingdom transformation' will be very activist in the community (locally and wider)."

Which all sets me thinking about mission or purpose statements - does a one-line mission statement build in the kind of biases mentioned here? A church not far from where I currently serve had a 'mission statement' which went to the opposite extreme and contained about 15 descriptions of what the church was like and the way it did things. Needless to say it never got further than being words on a bit of paper and was completely useless in framing the corporate life of the church!

Having a definition of the church that's brief enough to be memorable but comprehensive enough to be healthy is quite a challenge.

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