Thinking About the Church

I started the year intending to post at least once a month in 2011. So much for that resolution! Life just happens and over-runs our intentions so often. As I take a break from work at the office on this day before Easter I am thinking about a discussion I had recently in a meeting with my fellow elders at my local church about a new focus in ministry we are preparing to announce.

One of the realizations to which we have come is that many of the issues we face and frustrations we hear about, and experience ourselves, as we serve in leadership can be summed up in a simple lack of understanding of biblical ecclesiology. Once again, God’s timing is right on target since the seminary class I am taking this semester is a systematic theology course covering Spirit, Church, and Last Things. The assigned text for the ecclesiology segment of the course is Edmund Clowney’s The Church: Sacraments, Worship, Ministry, Mission. Having read it and in the context of our discussions at my local church, I would recommend it as a resource for assessing both your own personal understanding of what the Church is, should be doing, and how it should be and do those things. If you’re in church leadership I would say it’s a mandatory read with the goal of evaluating what, or maybe more accurately whether, you are devoting enough time to these questions in the teaching cycle of your classes and sermons.

What struck me about this book the most is the contrast between the individualism of our church membership today versus the family, community context the Bible presents as normative. Certainly there are lots of differences between our culture today and that of the first century that mean we must do specifics differently, but it’s the attitude about what the church is that needs to be thought through critically and ruthlessly in our day.

I’m reminded of a statement I made once as I was teaching on this that I think sums up what the Bible says about it. “He is more important than we. ‘We’ is more important than me.” Wonder what church would look like if we thought and acted from that attitude?

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