Describe your ideal church fellowship

So… first, a quick recap:

I don’t like the church I went to in high school.

In college I got plugged in to a much better fit, but I was so busy doing Campus Crusade stuff that it wasn’t a huge concern. I had almost all of my spiritual needs met through the many facets of the Campus Crusade for Christ ministry at North Carolina State University.

As soon as I graduated, I went overseas for about a year, and there I got a totally different ‘church’ experience: it was about 8 of us. We met in our PJs, drank coffee, worshiped under the leadership of the CD player, and then taught each other what God had been teaching each of us. This was a very good experience.

Then I came home and began working at a small, non-denominational church fellowship that attracted me because of some of the similarities to my overseas experience…. There was lots of freedom given ‘for the spirit to move’, including a time of open sharing, and a time of open prayer. I enjoyed this at first, but I also took note of a lot of drawbacks…

So, about five months ago, I sat in the office of a great pastor/friend and told him all this stuff, along with a lot of other stuff about how being newly married affected my ‘church experience’, and instead of really giving me any advice at all, he challenged me to write a 2-page paper on ‘my ideal church’ (or ‘church fellowship’ for those of you who can’t stand to hear the word ‘church’ unless it’s in reference to every believer in the whole world).

Fast-forward to today. I still haven’t written the first line. It’s not because I don’t want to. I just realized that I was way unqualified to answer the question.

Which is powerful if you think about it.

How can I pray for my church if I don’t know what I want it to be?

So I’ve been studying and praying and thinking, and although that’s still true that I’m not really qualified to answer the question, I think I want to take a crack at it this week, especially as our body is in a very transitional state right now.

But first, what’s your input?

I don’t need you to write a whole essay. But I would love to hear your thoughts!

WordPress says that there are about 100 folks who look at this site every day, but I usually only get 1-2 comments a day. PLEASE ENGAGE ON THIS ONE!

I look forward to hearing what you think…

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9 Responses

  1. i place I can share my heart, share the word, share a tear … hmmm … good question. Are you looking for stylistic features or theological features .. or both?

  2. Hi Sam,

    Thanks for you thoughtful comment!

    I looked at your blog and though I haven’t had a chance to carefully read any of the posts, it looks like a place that I will enjoy visiting in 2008.

    To answer your question: both, although more stylistic….

    Or better yet, what would an ‘average’ week be like for someone active in the ‘ideal’ body?

  3. simply, the church that knows the Gospel well, teaches it thoroughly from Old Testament and New, and proclaims it boldly in the pulpit and in lives of sacrificial service to orphans and widows.

    the rest of the things I (and the rest of the American church) get bent out of shape about are all fluff, crap, superfluous.

  4. Joyful worship, regular teaching/learning opportunities, and taking ACTION outside of the church in order love our neighbors and one another. Also fellowship with people who are interested in action, and children’s activities that actually have other children besides my own.

  5. I think the real key is to empower, equip and discipline the members of the congregation so that they can be ministers to their communities, (Family, workplace, neighborhood, and church small group)

    A good church is going to grow, and if the church isn’t producing leaders like this, the experience is going to become shallow.

    It is also important to make sure that the Church doesn’t become a substitute for Spiritual leadership. Men need to be told that it is their responsibility to lead their families. Parents have the job to teach God’s word to the children etc. Often parents replace their biblically teaching with that of a Sunday school teacher (Who is not biblically mandated)

  6. I would say the ‘ideal church’ would have a good balance of the Spirit & the Word, [if that doesn’t sound too “cliche-ish”]. The teaching of the Word would need to be paramount, but there should be some sense of expectation there too. So often we know exactly what’s going to happen in a service, and thus our faith-level is low [yawn]. The pastor eventually gets aggitated because the sheep aren’t “into” it much and then we start reading a bunch of books to find out what’s “cutting-edge”.
    Could it be that the ‘ideal church’ is simply dependent on the Holy Spirit, and yet always staying in the Word, and willing to change things up everynow and then?

  7. Wow! This is all great input so far.

    Let me try to recap:

    Emphasis on the Gospel
    Emphasis on the Holy Spirit
    Balance
    Teaching that empowers people
    Action, particularly in the form of service to those in need
    Participation
    Joyful worship
    Steers clear of predictability
    Growth

    Anything else?

    Josh, you say, “a good church is going to grow”.
    Do you mean that without exception? Or to think of it another way: if a church isn’t growing, is it fair to assume that they’re doing something wrong?
    (I’m not disagreeing, just clarifying :0)

  8. if a church isn’t growing, it could be that the church is no longer doing the mission to which was called, or God has changed the mission and the people stopped listening to the Spirit of God.

  9. […] new year, resolutions, riesland, spirituality (For those waiting for the followup to the ‘Describe Your Ideal Church’ discussion, don’t despair… I’m not blowing it off. I am reading a book about William […]

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