What Constitutes a Local Church

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Dr. Bob, Dec 4, 2003.

  1. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob
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    Mom and me in the living room, are we a "church"?

    Or just Christians meeting (where 2 or 3 are gathered . . ) is there a point where we quit being a coffee klatch and become a "church"?

    Does a church have to be "organized" - ie, elder/pastor, deacon, etc?

    Must a church have other requirements to be different from mom and me singing?

    NOT a place to argue about that mystical so-called church (I opt for the term "body of Christ" so that there is a distinction). We are ALL part of THAT group, whatever the name.

    I'm talking about local church of the NT.

    Thanks [​IMG]
     
  2. Helen

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    How come I knew you were going to start this thread? :D

    Assuming isolation is not a factor, a church is a group of people led by a pastor or elder.

    However, when isolation is a factor, it might be much smaller...
     
  3. Dr. Bob

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    [​IMG] Hi Helen. You could see this one coming?

    Subtilty R Us [​IMG]
     
  4. Daniel David

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    A local church will have certain tenets to it:

    1. The "Baptist" acronym sums up a lot of it.
    2. The proper method and view of ordinances (immersion, saved only take part in the Lord's supper, etc.).

    Let's see...

    B aptism by immersion
    A utonomy of the local church
    P riesthood of the believer
    T wo ordinances
    I nspiration and inerrancy of Scripture
    S alvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone
    T wo officers
     
  5. David Mark

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    I visit other Baptist churches. In one of my favorites, I have made many acquaintances. I think about them a lot.

    I see some things too.

    A minority has paid for most of everything.
    A minority has keys to the builing and can come and go as they please.
    A minority leads and controls everything.
    Even the current preacher has been hired by the minority.
    This minority is very difficult to get to know personaly.
    A minority decides what will be discussed.
    A minority is consitantly praised.
    A minority decides what songs will be sung, when they will be sung, and how they will be sung.

    The majority seems expendable and silenced to an extent. I am a member of the majority. I know full well that I am totaly expendable. I have no say whatsoever and I am never consulted.

    Something is wrong somewhere with an unqualified pursuit of numbers and size. I frequently hear rejoicing over only the numbers.

    The only great thing they have going for them is the building and the number of the majority. Lose the building and see what remains.

    But I don't have that kind of money. I don't know folks who are like me who have that kind of money either. So I am at a loss to build my own facility and hire my own preachers. So I turn to what I do have. I have a car, a modest home and an income. I have everything they have but on a much smaller scale. Why am I despised for this?

    Dave.
     
  6. Ransom

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    Schaeffer does an exposition of what a church is, in one of his books (I forget which one - The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century comes to mind). It was a list of eight or nine characteristics. This is a partial list; hopefully someone else can fill in the missing blanks (I'm not going to speculate on the ones I can't remember):

    </font>
    1. The church is a body of believers.</font>
    2. The church has elders and deacons.</font>
    3. The church practices discipline.</font>
    4. The church practices baptism and the Lord's Supper.</font>
     
  7. Michael Wrenn

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    Daniel,

    Kind of restricts a "local church" to those who believe like you, doesn't it?

    Ransom,

    So, Quakers don't have churches?
     
  8. Matt Black

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    I think one of the more useful things to come out of the Reformation was this definition: "where the Word of God is preached,the sacraments administered and discipline exercised". For us of course the 'sacraments' would be the two ordinances of baptism and communion/ eucharist/ Lord's Supper/ breaking of bread/ whatever you want to call it.

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  9. Jim1999

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    Looking at the New Testament, the local churches elected deacons and engaged a pastor. They observed the Lord's supper and administered baptism before the assembly. The church can be nothing less than this.

    The Plymouth Brethren held meetings, opened Gospel Halls and such, but refrained from calling their buildings churches. It may be different to-day in some circles. The one thing that separated them from Baptists was that they did not engaged a pastor.

    In some situations of isolation or pure lack of numbers, a few souls come together for fellowship, praise and learning sessions. This is all well and good, and as it should be, but does not qualify to be called a church per se.

    Now to the building. It does not matter what shape or form the building may take. The church can assemble in a sewer as they did during the days of Roman persecutions, but that was not the same as two or three people calling themselves a church. The actually met to worship and function as a church under difficult circumstances.

    If several people were isolated in say the South Pole and no assembled body were present, they could very well come together to form a church and thus engage in the two ordinances. One could serve as pastor, whether paid or not, but he would have to assume that role. This then with two or three assembled would qualify as a local church.

    The local church is not one or two assembled in isolation. That would be fellowship in Christ.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  10. Ransom

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    Michael Wrenn said:

    So, Quakers don't have churches?

    Since Quakers refuse to administer either church ordinance for doctrinal reasons, that denomination is actively and deliberately in rebellion against the Lord Jesus and have departed from the Christian faith.

    If they want to call their gatherings "churches," that is their business. So do the Scientologists and the Mormons, for what that is worth. Doesn't make 'em one.
     
  11. Michael Wrenn

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    Ransom,

    Then by your reasoning it follows that all believers who have not been water-baptized have departed from the Christian faith. That is not scriptural--unless you consider that God did not let the thief on the cross into heaven.

    The Quakers have followed Christ's teaching much more closely than many other groups claiming the name 'Christian'-- the Quakers having been doers of the word rather than hearers only.
     
  12. Jim1999

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    As BAPTISTS we attempt to follow the scriptural teaching, and not by the fact that others may find their own way. This is not to say they are not serving the Lord in many avenues, but that WE, as Baptists, believe they are incorrect on what the Bible clearly teaches about the local church and its requirements, including the polity and practice.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  13. PastorGreg

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    "An independent, autonomous assembly of immersed believers, having New Testament church officers, practicing New Testament church ordinances, and actively engaged in carrying out the great commission." Sound familiar MBBC'ers?
     
  14. Ransom

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    Michael Wrenn said:

    Then by your reasoning it follows that all believers who have not been water-baptized have departed from the Christian faith.

    That doesn't follow, but if it were up to me, any professing Christian who refused to be baptized in a reasonable amount of time after his profession of faith - despite being given the opportunity and a reasonable attempt at correction - would be subject to church discipline for his disobedience to Christ's commandment. He may profess Christ, but if he has not put on Christ, he is in rebellion.

    I have heard many excuses why a given believer might not be baptized, but none of them have ever claimed, as do the Quakers, that baptism was not for believers. There is a difference, notwithstanding your attempt to whitewash it.

    That is not scriptural--unless you consider that God did not let the thief on the cross into heaven.

    There is also a categorical difference between the thief on the cross, whose circumstances prevented him from being baptized, and a Quaker, who refuses to be baptized.

    The Quakers have followed Christ's teaching much more closely than many other groups claiming the name 'Christian'-- the Quakers having been doers of the word rather than hearers only.

    They may be the most "spiritual" people on the planet, but if that "spirituality" goes against Jesus commands to be baptized and to observe the Lord's Supper, then all that "spirituality" is just a nicey-nicey form of disobedience.
     
  15. Frogman

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    The local church is not one or two assembled in isolation. That would be fellowship in Christ.

    To this, I say Amen. [​IMG]

    Bro. Dallas [​IMG]
     
  16. Frogman

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    I have to be absent for a while, and you guys go and discuss all the good stuff.

    Isn't the scripture referenced (2 or 3) in context of discipline? If so, then wouldn't the 'local church' already have been in existence? Or is there a way of disciplining a non-existent entity that I do not know about? :D

    Bro. Dallas [​IMG]
     
  17. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    I am in a pioneer church planting effort. We meet in our home and at the present have my family, two other families, and a single lady attending. No one has "joined" the church. I am the missionary pastor, they have never "called" me as their pastor. We function as a church. Most of them give financially. I ask for approval before I spend church money.

    The point - are we a church?
     
  18. Dr. Bob

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    No, you are a church-plant - a proto-church in embryonic stage. I do this all the time. Work with a small group and eventually charter and incorporate as a church per se.

    But some never do. They are Bible studies and groups TRYING to be a church, but never quite get the "organized" part of it.

    It's NOT just a few folks preaching/teaching. It is much more.
     
  19. Dr. Bob

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    Dr. Weeks would be proud of you. That little man had a great impact on us all (either directly or through those who followed him that sat at his feet).
     
  20. Archippus

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    What does a "church plant" do about the Lord's Table and baptism. Can they, like c4k's situation, function as a church for those purposes? In what other ways is a church plant different from a church?
     

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