Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The ideal church

If you could have church be anything you wanted it to be, what would your ideal church be like? Would it be pipe organs and stained glass windows in a breath-taking cathedral? Would it be a small group of people sitting around a fire at the beach? Would it focus on preaching? on prayer? on worship? on discipleship? What would be the core beliefs of your ideal church? What sort of people would be part of it? How big would that church be?

What is church to you?

I'm beginning to formulate some ideas that are new to me. I'd love to hear yours. And, if you are already part of your ideal church, let me know where it is!


  1. Great question.

    1 Corin 14

    29Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.


    2 Peter 2

    4As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrificesacceptable to God through Jesus Christ

  2. Thanks for those verses. In your ideal church, how would that look?

  3. Thanks for a wonderful idea, Rebecca! I like this post!

    My ideal church meets in a home large enough to accommodate 100 or a little more. The music would be from the heart, with everyone singing with all they have, and perhaps a variety of styles and instruments. There would be communion every Sunday, but it would be centered around a joyful time of eating together, not a somber service. There would be a good, meaty sermon each week, although not always by the same person. There would be a discussion time after the sermon, perhaps for an hour or so. The discussion would focus on the sermon, first of all, and then other things that the Lord has been teaching each one that week. There would be a time of personal prayer requests and corporate prayer, perhaps with many different people praying for the requests.

    What sort of people? Christian sorts. Those who are needy and those who are at a place to minister to others. Those who are willing to bear one another burdens and those who want to be an intimate part of each other's lives during the week as well. Fellowship would last most of the day, if not all day, on Sundays, with a big meal being eaten together as well. I like the idea of taking Sunday evenings to talk about marriage issues within the church and work them out weekly. My ideal beliefs would be NCT and I like it when all the ages meet together as one.

    I would also like to see many fellowship times, for various reasons, spring up from that, in other homes during the week as well.

    And in the afternoon, after the meal, the children should have plenty of time and room to play together.

    Sorry, it's not real orderly. I wrote them down as the thoughts came to my mind. I know real churches like these, so this is realistic.

  4. Hi Rebecca, First of all, it would not need one 'pastor'. A prophet can be anyone who is gifted for that. Everyone who is really saved is gifted by the Holy Spirit to edify the Body. So, instead of being an audience, everyone from time to time would be exercising their gifts within the Body.

    There would be no cult of personality. Jesus Christ would be the only authority and the Body would always seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in Worship, prayer, interpretation of scripture, etc. A true Holy Priesthood.

  5. My husband and I were discussing "What is the church?" yesterday. One passage that came to mind was Acts 2:42, where it describes the new church right after Pentecost: "They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, the breaking of bread and to prayer."

    It seems that the modern church in American has added so much to that in the way of programs and fluff that really detracts from the simplicity of what the Body of Christ should be doing.

    What do you think? What are the essential elements of what the church should be doing?

    I liked a lot of what Jen described. But then, I also like liturgy, pipe organs, and grand cathedrals...

  6. Rebecca, I was listening to John Piper on this very subject today and he said that we could search the NT for how we are to worship God -- in vain. Nothing is commanded -- buildings, sermons, music, instruments, vestments, candles, liturgy, etc. But, nothing is forbidden either. IOW, we are free to DO church however we want, as long as it is not sinful in some other way. It sounded like he had been talking to Mike too much!

    As much as I love Acts 2:42, I do think it is descriptive and not necessarily prescriptive. We would certainly do well to abide by it, but we are not sinning if we don't follow their pattern either.

    As for your liturgy, pipe organ, and grand cathedrals -- go for it! You are free to have those as well. And if you ever get over to the other side of this nation, near Orlando, go visit RC Sproul's church. You will LOVE it! It is my very favorite of all churches I have ever been to.

  7. I am currently very much in a pipe organ/stained glass windows/liturgy frame of mind--and we are loving it. I don't know if this is forever more or just for a season of rest, but it's been deep and good so far.

  8. I have been meditating on this for a while, as we simply have not found a church home in our current duty station. I love the liturgy, it helps me to focus my mind where it belongs in church, and I love the 'traditional' style music. A good minister, or group thereof, that could cover all the duties of the congregation (good sermon/good outreach/good sheparding/etc). A choir would be nice, a woman's bible study group or three, an active prayer circle and groups supporting those in need. Lots of things, some from growing up in a church founded in part by my grandfather and some from being in a military church community.

    I think there are two importants that are absolute though. The first is a church's openness to children. All the churches here have nurseries, and you are STRONGLY encouraged to use them. I have nothing AGAINST a nursery. And I even see times where I might use one. But when you are made to feel unwelcome because your children are with you in the service, when lack of distraction is held higher than these little souls, I find myself itching for the door.

    The other must for me is open communion. I was raised LCMS, closed table. I knew it was wrong then, and still know it is just wrong. How is it that we, mere human beings, are performing door duty when the Lord Himself has issued the invitation to his table!

    I am really looking forward to reading more of your thoughts and ideas on this.


  9. We have had a. . . difficult time. . . in settling into a church home since we returned to the States. Honestly, I needed (or at least strongly wanted) a church that was "comfortable" to me. A place that felt like balm to my soul when we joined in corporate worship. A place that was not easy to find here.

    We did find a place like that, and were there for nearly six months, but we knew it wasn't long-term or "home" even though it "felt" comfortable for us. (What did this place of comfort look like? Smallish church, a mother and daughter took turns playing the piano with an elder leading in hymns, solid and strong Reformed and Covenantal preaching. Not big into "programs." Intentional in reaching out to the immediate community, lower income and mixed ethnicity. Not part of the denomination of which we are members. Familiarity, but anonymity. I wasn't in a fishbowl.)

    Now, just the the past few months, we are at the neighborhood church that is part of our denomination. It doesn't "feel" as comfortable to me. Too much "band" music and not enough peaceful hymns. They sing the doxology differently! They are growing--which is good. But they are bigger than I like. A lot of things I find that are not "comfortable and safe" for me.

    But. . . This really is where I believe we are supposed to be. One thing that has helped me accept this has been the Covenant Worldwide lectures I'm listening to on God's World Mission. Specifically, what I believe theologically about the Biblically-directed elements of worship and what I believe about how they may "look" different within various cultural contexts--that allows me to accept the things that feel peaceful to me are part of my cultural biases. And approaching this church in that way helps me to accept it--just like it was easy to accept how our church in Ukraine as it was within that cultural context.

    (And not to confuse adapting to a cultural context as syncretism. . . not at all. . .)