Tuesday, January 03, 2006

What is Local?

I've been reading George Barna's "Revolution". He talks about how many are starting to pick and choose parachurch ministries to create their own Christian experience. They fill their plates with things like:

- supporting and enjoying Crowder worship concerts
- teaching or learning in Bible Study Fellowship studies
- organizing or serving on reliefnownetwork.org serve trips
- throwing some parties with neighbors and friends who don't yet know Christ
- blogging with great Christ-following friends from around the globe.

It's funny... I just categorized Passion and BSF and reliefnownetwork.org by the descriptor I've always heard... PARA-church ministries. Why can it not be acknowledged that these are PART OF THE CHURCH? I think I could be a pretty complete Christ-follower doing the five things listed above. In fact, they are Rick Warren's five purposes. Barna is bold to question the validity of the statement "The local church is the hope of the world." Maybe the concept of the local church is being blown away since the world is now so small that a believer can stream Tomlin, blog with Scotland and paypal dollars to AIDS orphans.

In the same vein, instead of making the local church the place where everyone's gift finds a usage, why not allow the global church to be the place where that happens?

What do you think?


steve said...

What if our 'local churches' became the staging area for all of those things to happen? A clearinghouse pointing people to all the things that are happening they could be involved in?

Instead of cloistering and trying to bring everyone to us, we pointed them to the world and with all of our hearts told them to go and make a difference.

I think it could happen but it's not church as we know it.

kris said...

{Barna is bold to question the validity of the statement "The local church is the hope of the world.} i sort of gasped when i read this as well -- since it was pretty obvious where he got it... :-)
I thought it might be a tad harsh to take the statement to task, as I think the intent is to say that the church is Christ's representative on earth. Jesus gave us that job ... anyway ...
to your point, i think you've very clearly honed in on the message of 'revolution' (great book, by the way), which is that the current 'local church' does not reflect the early church described in the NT.
i am becoming more and more challenged to look at the amount of energy and resourses we pour into maintaining the 'organization' -- which often keeps us from having the time and/or energy for anything.

not an excuse, just an observation...

kris said...

ooops - i stopped mid-thought to answer the phone and meant to say...
-- which often keeps us from having the time and/or energy for things that might engage those who don't know him - or would otherwise reflect God's love for the world.

anne jackson said...

I think amen. Whereas the local church is not a bad thing, as you said, the world is so much smaller.

Sam. said...

Thanks for you comments on my blog, Allen. I'm am trying to get in the habit of memorising longer passages of Scripture...what have you been memorising lately?

Jim Hamilton said...


Thanks for your comment. I think the main problem is that though there is a lot of agreement between these ministries, they are not united under a group of elders who know and shepherd them, teach them the Bible, and hold them accountable to thinking and living in accord with the truth of Scripture. As a result, you wouldn't have real unity and it would be impossible to really cooperate at deep levels.

The Antioch church sent out Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13, and every time Paul comes back from a journey he goes and reports to the church that sent him out. This is a powerful testimony to the apostle's accountability to the church (see also his humility in Gal 2, where he talks about how he laid out what he was teaching to make sure he wasn't running in vain -v.2).

It's too easy to be anonymous, unaccountable, theologically vague, and spiritually solo without the local church. . .

Hope the conversation continues!