Whenever I point out that our churches should be more Biblical and look like the apostolic church in Jerusalem that we read about in the first 12 chapters of the book of Acts, many fellow church leaders argue that there are many equally good models that we can form our congregations after, or that church structure really doesn’t matter much and so we shouldn’t discuss that too much. Allow me to disagree:
In this video I show that church structure does matter a lot, taking the example of Jerusalem and how it seemingly shaped the apostle James’ theology, and I question whether churches with different structures than the Jerusalem church really share the same fruit: conversions every day, nobody living in poverty and an abundance of signs and wonders.
I have been reading here for a few months. A lot of your stuff really excites me. I appreciate your ministry and your blog.
This post gets under my skin, so I respond to it. But I must navigate a complex response that I have a hard time believing you will follow me through with…. But let’s see…
I grew up in a church heritage here in USA that very much would champion the ideal you speak of in the title to this post. For my heritage, there is no option but to LOOK LIKE THE NT CHURCH! Anything less is absolute failure and apostasy. So… I feel ya, Bro.
If reference to this 200 year old heritage is of any interest to you, please check out THE RESTORATION MOVEMENT as we call it and the key founding figures from history – Alexander and Thomas Campbell (From Scotland) and Barton Stone (from Kentucky). These men started out as Presbyterians and immigrants to American shortly after the American Revolution and founded a “unity movement” to draw the churches together instead of them being splintered into denominations. Their ideal, so they thought, was to do church like we read in the New Testament.
I am quite certain that your idea of what NT church looks like and theirs will have been different in some key ways (and ultimately that will be the rub). But they had no less passion than you to achieve exactly that ideal.
However, sadly, the movement did not ultimately bring unity (instead it split up into at least a dozen factions). However, it is the only movement I know of from church history that actually brought Presbyterians and Baptists together into one body – even if only briefly! So… that is almost huge! But alas, they split up again.
Now…. I can shoot holes in the American Restoration Movement all day long and hit vital organs while blindfolded and both hands tied behind my back. These very well-intentioned men really made a mess of things, and their children made it far worse. Nevertheless, I will not call their devotion to God into question. He will judge their hearts, not me. Perhaps their work will burn up and yet their souls be saved…. But I leave that to God.
Still, they meant most earnestly to do church like it is done in the New Testament, and held a very rigid standard for that ideal. 200 years later, this movement is just a minnow in a large ocean of Christendom… hardly noticed, and where noticed… usually dreaded.
I am with you, though. I think the NT church model is on target. But I strongly urge humility and grace as we explore what that means and aim for it. And I expect we will need to rely on the Spirit of God to empower it (like the first church did) and live with its imperfections (like the first church did) as it seems to never really work out on paper like we hope (as, I suspect the first church did).
I pray you find success where these others failed. I pray you not fall into the same snares as others who passed this way before….
Blessings from Texas
Fat Beggars School of Prophets
Lubbock, Texas (USA)
Thanks for your comment! I do call myself a restorationist not primarily die to the American Restorationist Movement but because that’s the religiosociological term used for Christians like me who want to restore the Biblical church. It’s true that different restorationists have different views on what the Biblical church is, but I think it’s pretty evident what the Jerusalem church looked like, and that’s quite frankly the most extensive description of a New Testament church that we have.