The “Ideal Church”.  Does it exist?  CAN it exist? I’ve been thinking recently about specifically what a church could “be” to continually point mature Christians back to the object of their faith; Jesus Christ and aid them in maturing in their faith and practice, while being a beacon for those who have not come to the personal conviction of their need for a saviour, or the mental assent of what God both requires, and also offers to man; which is of course, the Righteous of His Son.

I compiled a list of things I would personally like to see in a local church. Forgive it if it seems arrogant. I might look at this years later and realize areas that I was misguided.

 

  • Practices “rule by elder” form of church government, and avoids 1) the top-down power of Hierarchal Rome, and 2) avoids Congregational government that would only give unfair responsibility and unhealthy power to a lone senior pastor, and ultimately leave him with no support system for himself.

 

  • Embraces the Biblical idea of the “priesthood of all believers” and has a significant leadership of laymen (not just elders or deacons) who help guide and tend to the church, through vision, teaching, and service to others, while still respecting a Teaching Elder’s (pastor) knowledge and leadership. Education, study, and experience are important. Believing in the priesthood of all believers shouldn’t encourage people to sit around in their collective ignorance without a discerning leader.

 

  • Practices Communion every Sunday service, with real bread being broken, real wine, and carefully selected music to help reflect on what it symbolizes.

 

  • Uses ecenumical creeds (Apostle’s, Nicene, Athanasius, and Chalcedon) to celebrate and reflect on the overarching themes and truth of scripture.

 

  • Uses denominational creeds and confessions to further affirm theological convictions corporately, like the Westminster Confession, or the Heidelberg Catechism.

 

  • Employs various styles of worship music that reflects the congregation’s diversity, from the Psalms, ancient hymns, early American and Puritan hymns, contemporary music, and even music written by musicians within the church, but should ALWAYS done with the utmost reverence and sincerity, not for the sake of entertainment. Excellence should be pursued in worship for God’s glory, not man’s approval from the pews.

 

  • Diversity in the instruments present in worship according to the talents and preferences of the congregation, from piano and organ to acoustic guitars and strings, or electric instruments, but… done with the utmost reverence and sincerity.
  • Humble in how it spends money. It should realize that hungry third-world families who’ve never heard the name of Jesus could be much better served with our resources than building a gymnasium or “Christian Life Center” that will only be used once a week. Avoids paying unnecessary salaries just to accommodate the consumer-minded church member.

 

  • Strives to serve its local community, as a witness of the mercy of God and out of sheer hospitality; possibly through food and clothes ministries, free tutoring, healthy sports programs for youth, focusing on community needs that need to be addressed, allowing facilities to be used for events, etc.

 

  • Realize as a church that it is on a mission to be Gospel-bearers to the world, locally and globally.

 

  • Pursues excellence in all things it does, from worship and teaching within the church to pursuing its mission outside the church’s walls. Classes, studies, discussions on theology, church history.

 

  • Is aware of other churches in the area, and seeks not to compete but complement, and partner with other congregations who have similar theological views.

 

  • Celebrates theology and church history through education, and Christian experience, but glorifies none of them in and of themselves.

 

  • Preaches the Word expositorally, sometimes topically, and even in discussion formats when it’s to the glory of God and the benefit of the congregation while being application-oriented. But the clear meaning of a text should demand respect, and should always be pre-eminent.

 

  • Speaks in cultural terms easily accessible to those in attendance. I don’t mean uses pop culture references as a catchy strategy to attract seekers or entertain worldly believers, but rather uses examples of popular (or even ancient) culture as a means to illustrate the worldview of the world in which we live and minister in contrast to the worldview demanded of us by the Gospel.
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