As mentioned yesterday, we’re kicking off an in-depth conversation about online church. Over the next several weeks, we’re going to “focus on specific issues and aspects of online church one at a time. The objective is not to definitively prove whether virtual churches are legitimate churches or not, but to help the church become better by discussing where virtual churches have unique the potential to advance the kingdom of God and where they face challenges to becoming healthy, fully functional churches.”
I think the place to start this conversation is by looking at what specifically an organization must be and do to be a “real,” biblical church whether online or offline.
In his book SimChurch (affiliate link), Douglas Estes explores several definitions of church:
Estes starts by defining a church as “a localized assembly of he people of God dwelling in meaningful community with the task of building the kingdom.”
He quotes Martin Luther who defined a church as “the gathering of believers, in which the gospel is purely preached and the holy sacraments are administered n accord with the gospels.”
John Calvin added to Luther’s definition saying a church must include correct church government and discipline.
In his book Purpose Driven Church, Rick Warren defined a church as having 5 specific purposes: evangelism, worship, discipleship, fellowship, and ministry.
So, which of these do you believe is necessary for a church to be a biblical church? And why?
- Ministry (Serving those within the church)
- Missions (Serving those outside the church)
- Authority (Established/overseen by a denomination or similar organization)
- Government (A charter or bylaws establishing organizational structure within the church & membership process/rules)
- Discipline (correcting members who behave in appropriately and rooting out false doctrine)
- Gathering together on a regular basis
- Preaching by an ordained minister
- Sunday school or small groups
- Nifty Fifties
- Motorcycle ministry
Please help spread the word about this discussion specifically to those involved in the development and pastoring of online churches. We’d want as many people and perspectives involved as possible. And don’t forget to vote in the poll in the right sidebar.[image by e_phots]