what does church look like? part two

August 29, 2004 | 6 Comments

Some continuing thoughts from the previous entry

Why do I feel drawn to less structure within church?
Structure within churches has been something that has turned off many. It is at the core of the argument for those who want no part of ‘organized religion’. Structures can become corrupt, but we shouldn’t assume that all structure is therefore evil. Quite the opposite, I think that there is a form of structure that is defined for us in the Bible that is a vital part of what needs to be included in a church. It is not a structure of hierarchy (which is really what turns most people off) — it is a supernatural structure of giftedness.

God created us to all be a part of the church structure by contributing our gifts. I think it is pretty clear that he did this so that we would need each other, and not go about following Jesus alone. It seems to me that the usage of gifts is critical to creating a genuine community as God intended it. 1 Corinthians 12:7 points out that gifts are given for the benefit of all. We also have a responsibility, according to 1 Peter 4:10, to use our gifts for the benefit of others.

There is a supernatural structure that is already in place. I’m not sure what it has to look like, but it brings up many questions. I’m just going to ask them for now…maybe I can share more thoughts on them later. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your feedback as I try to hammer out what this can/should look like.

  • Is a community incomplete unless all the gifts mentioned in Scripture are present within it?
  • If not all the gifts are necessary to form a complete community, are there core gifts that need to be present?
  • If we are in a community where we don’t have an opportunity to share our gifts, are we really in genuine community?
  • Here’s one I’ve been rethinking of late — When 1 Corinthians 12:7 says that the gifts are for the common good, is that for the common good of fellow believers, or the common good of the world?

Note: There is still more to the structure conversation — I’ve just chosen to focus on the gifts part. However, this is clearly a precendent in Scripture for some to take shepherding/leading roles of some sort. I’ll just have to tackle that another time… (My “Things to Think About Later” list is getting longer!)

  • I really think you would enjoy Journey Inward, Journey Outward by Elizabeth O’Connor.

  • Between email, comments here, and your site, I think that’s about the fifth time you’ve recommended that book! Perhaps I need to take the hint! I’ve added it to my wish list on Amazon…baby steps!

  • When I think of the gifts being for the benefit of all, I dont think that means just in one community, but the whole community of the church, the body of Christ.

    In the sense that a prophet’s role is to take god’s message to wherever called, not simply the community he is part of.

    Pastor is to offer his pastoral gifts to any who need it, not just his closest immediate community.

    It’s nowhere near happening in the current church though.

    Other things dont have to happen in the same immediate community. Prayer and help for a community on the other side of the world for example.


  • Good thoughts Lucy 🙂

    John – Sorry about the abundance of recommending that book. I forget who I’ve recommended it to. It’s a paradigm changing book, and surprisingly written in the 60’s. My mom just finished reading it and couldn’t stop talking about what it said when I saw her today. Ever since I read it, and having done the class she talked about in the book, I’ve noticed that everytime someone talks about gifts and/or community concerninig the Church, I think of Church of the Savior and that book.

  • Zach

    my head hurts, i need to go back to angels and deamons.

  • david

    What do you all think of the the premise that the gifts are for whoever is in front of you at any given moment? That this may be the truest model of community; serving whichever sojourning heart is in the direct crosshairs of your sacrificial love in a moment. This of course assumes that a) you will be able to apply your gift somehow to every relationship that is brought into focus, and b) targets are moved in and out of reach over time. sense?