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I know that as I am enjoying my new southern california home, finding a new church to call my own provided me with a new opportunity to figure out exactly what the key points of a healthy church should look like. I think the best thing to do in this situation is to go straight to the source: the early church as set up by Christ himself. I'm lucky to be with an amazing man who is right in the middle of a Biblical Studies major, which he will soon complete and continue into seminary. As he prepares for the idea of leading a congregation, he too has been dealing with this question, and came to the same conclusion: take it to the model of the early church
So...Here's a little taste of what i think is key ->

*Acts 3:42 seems to reveal 4 important pillars of the early church
2)Fellowship (noticed that this is SECONDARY to teaching and most always remain so)
4)Prayer (includes the modern day concept of worship)

*Verses 43-47 presents a practical picture of what this looks like and includes:
1)A deep sense of awe for the presence of God and just how amazing it is to be in it (awe is better translated from the greek as FEAR)
2)Meeting constantly in fellowship, not just a weekly commitment: it speaks of them opening their homes to each other so they could meet as often as possible, often to share in communion and fellowship
3) no sense of possesion - a willingness to admit that everything belongs solely to the Lord which gives way to the ability to chare anything with any believer in need. Possesions were of minimal importance and wealth was not a prevalent concept. It also said they shared these things in "joy and generosity," not for any form of acclaim within the church
4)It finishes the desription with the statement that the Lord added to their numbers EACH DAY; it also qualifies this statement with the desription that these were "those who were being saved," not people coming from another congregation.
5)There is also a sense throughout acts that the church was not to be seen as an organization, but rather a universal concept encompassing all believers

Ok...so what does all this have to do with anything :) EVERYTHING! If this is how Christ set up his church to look, it is a fair idea to hold our current churches up to this very standard and ask ourselves how similar it really is...

does this help at all??? dont forget: i too once had to hold FBCLA to this question, so i know how youre feeling. I really do

Marshall Fritz

There is a risk to evangelicals who start
digging into "the early church." So many
of them find out it looks so Catholic that
they end up being sluiced right down the
Tiber to Rome.

The cases of John Henry Cardinal Newman of
yesteryear and Alex Jones and Rod Bennett
of American contemporary scene are examples.

An easy way to start reading would be
the reviews of Bennett's "Four Witnesses"
on Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0898708478/qid=1113829748/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/104-1584048-3978310?v=glance&s=books


I see clear and distinct differences between the early church and the catholic church...CLEAR and distinct. In fact, i think on many levels, they are polar opposites. If you mean Catholic, capital "C," meaning auniversal body of believers, i think thats exactly what the early church was. HOWEVER: i dont think its the type of catholic that would lead you anywhere near rome...


John, I think in general what you've written sounds good, but I would be ver-r-r-ry cautious about the "giving education to its members" or "proclaiming moral guidance" bits. For instance, here in the Netherlands there was recently an uproar because an Imam wrote a book purporting to educate and give moral guidance to Muslims and would-be Muslims, in which, among other things, he declared that homosexuals were lower than swine and should all be dropped head-first from the top of a mosque. Needless to say, this didn't go over well with the Dutch government, which while it protects freedom of speech and religion, also protects the civil rights of *all* citizens and takes a very hard view of authority figures which incite others to violence. I've seen far too much "We're right and everybody else, especially THEM, is wrong" within religious bodies to think that leaving education up to them is a fabuloso idea.

John D

I think you might be interested in this jewel of a website: faithCommons:

They actually ask "What is a Church?" all the time. And they talk about allot of the concerns you just mentioned. There's some incredible passion there.


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