So, what does the model Christian church look like? Experience with church varies from person to person. Some of us have been in one denomination our whole life. Others have had our fair share of testing the waters in different places. You may be reading this and never stepped foot in a house of worship before. The point is, ask 10 people and you may get as many different answers.
To answer this question, we should take a look at similarities between the modern church(es) we know today and then journey back to where it all started. Has the church been consistent? We shall see. Be sure to read to the end. By the end of this article, we hope your questions are answered. If not, contact us anytime and we’d be glad to answer your questions.
While modern-day Christian churches vary in style, we will first try to point out similarities. Nearly every Christian Church will have the following:
You can add more to the list for sure. But, these elements should be a quick answer to what does a model Christian church look like today? However, is how we “do church” today the “model” church? To get an honest answer we need to go way back to where it all started in the first century. What was the church like at that time? It seems logical that the original church would answer this.
If we are going to take an honest look at the “model” church, shouldn’t we consider how the earliest Christians did “church”? Wouldn’t that be the closest evidence we have as to how Jesus intended the church to be?
In this next segment, we will examine the early church and even point out contrasts between the modern-day church and the original church. SPOILER ALERT – You may say “The church I go to is nothing like that”. Don’t worry. Just keep reading.
We have to look to the bible as it is the earliest viewpoint on the church structure. Need a bible? Download the FREE SOH App for a free digital bible and other great resources here – Apple and Android
In the bible, we find 2x when the Apostle Paul instructs the church on how it should be structured. 1 Cor 12:28 and Eph 4:11 (below)
And He (Jesus) gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
Learn more about What is an Apostolic Church?
Let’s consider these characteristics of the early church and whether they line up with your experience.
Today, we associate the church with a building. This was not so. The church was the people. In fact, the word in scripture that is translated to church is the Greek word “ecclesia”. Ecclesia means “called out assembly”. The church was a group of people or the congregation, called out to be God’s people on earth. These people are what is known as the “Body of Christ”.
As stated in Ephesians 4, the role of the gathering of the church was for a VERY special reason. That role was to equip or “build up” the people. Equip with what? The simple answer is knowledge of God, personal growth, and understanding one’s gifts. Why would we need to discover our gifts? For the work of service, which is to make an impact on this earth for God.
Church efforts revolved around impacting the world around them through the Great Commission. This was the mission mandated by Jesus.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matt: 28:18-20
Here is a great article further explaining “What is the Great Commission?“
Today, we find most churches led by a Senior Pastor. When we look at scripture, a different structure is encouraged. The church was an “Apostolic Church” NOT a Pastoral driven church.
You see, the Pastoral role is a single (but important) gift out of 5 mentioned in scripture. This is known as the “5 Fold Ministry” or 5 “Fold Gifts”. The earliest churches had multiple leaders each with at least one of the following 5 gifts. When all these gifts were present, it helped to promote powerful and bold Christians.
Learn more about the Five Fold Ministry
Think about it. Based on the definitions we discussed, a church with all 5 gifts operating effectively is one that:
What does the model Christian church look like based on your experience? For many, the experience has been different from those 2000 years ago. Don’t fret, after a long time where the original church structure was near-forgotten, we are seeing a resurgence in the 5 Fold Apostolic Ministry gifts as found in the bible. Even if your church doesn’t subscribe to the “verbiage” of the 5 Fold or Apostolic ministry, use the giftings examples above to determine at what level you and those around you are operating in the original structure and intention as the ecclesia. Remember, you don’t go to church… you ARE the church. Discover what your gifts are and start learning how to operate in them.
There is no such thing as a perfect church. We are all imperfect people. With that said, Sound of Heaven Church strives to display the gifts mentioned in this article for the purposes intended. That is to build a strong group of Christians that will rise up in this generation to do something great for God.
Always remember that God created you with gifts. We are here if you ever need to discover them and apply them to make a difference in this world. What does the model Christian church look like? Hopefully, soon it looks like me and you.
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