What makes a group of Christians a church?
As a theological category, church could refer to just those who are Christians. But when we use the word church as in, "I'm at church," "we are going to church," "we are the church," we're talking about a gathered body with certain parameters.
In the New Testament, you get a good sense that the church looks a little different in Acts than it does in Corinthians and in Timothy. But there's teaching. There's singing. There's praying. There are sacraments.
It's important to remember that when you have two people at Starbucks who are talking about Jesus, that's nice and that may be a group of Christians, but a church has order, offices, and certain worship elements.
How institutional should the church be?
It's a mirage to think we are going to have something of lasting impact that isn't going to institutionalize in some way. I don't think we have to pit structure against the Spirit or believe that somehow the Spirit can only work through spontaneity.
I fall back on the historic marks of the church. The church needs to regularly gather in worship, in prayer, to hear God's Word, and to receive the sacraments. It should be an ordered body where there's membership, leadership, and discipline.
What's the greatest danger of churchless Christianity?
Without the regular routine, sometimes humdrum, mundane gathering—preaching, praying, singing, sacraments, "Yep, we're doing it again this week, doing it again next week"—without the regular plodding stuff of congregational meetings and nursery workers, I don't know if the churchless movement is sustainable.
The second danger with churchless Christianity is that in some instances, it might not be Christianity anymore. Churchless Christianity sometimes seems to be anti-pastor, anti-sermon, anti-doctrinal boundaries, and the mantra, "I want Jesus, not religion."
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3 John 8