Tuesday, 26 October 2010

What’s your church like?

How do you answer a question like this? Do you talk about what happens at a typical Sunday meeting? Maybe you say how many people belong to the church, and what social or outreach projects the church runs. Credit to Frank Viola for the idea, but how about describing what our church is like in terms of what a church is supposed to be:

A new kind of people – looking beyond the natural categories of race, social background, gender, age and so on

A family – looking after each other and putting each other’s needs before our own

A body – with everyone contributing and playing a part in the life of the church, like a body is made of many parts that can only work properly when in harmony with all the other parts

A bride – loved limitlessly by God and expressing his beauty in our world

An army – growing in our ability to stand against the powers opposed to God: ‘I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it’.

A holy priesthood – all serving God and bringing him glory through our daily lives

A holy nation – set apart for God’s purposes, reflecting the values of God’s kingdom rather than our earthly kingdom

A golden lampstand – bringing light to the world and together banishing the darkness of oppression, injustice and poverty

One loaf – connected together and united, like the grains that are baked together to make a loaf of bread

God’s field – as expressed in the loaf idea, we should all be rooted in God’s soil so that together we show God’s likeness

A vineyard – linked with Christ so that his character and ours are so closely intertwined

A sheepfold – moving together and following the direction of God, our shepherd

A temple – being built together with Christ as our foundation and cornerstone, and bringing God’s presence into the world

A city – citizens of the glorious heavenly Jerusalem, a city in which Jesus is the prince and the light

Please do have a quick read of the article on Frank Viola’s blog. I think it’s wonderful and it’s certainly given me a fresh lens on how we ‘do’ church.


  1. What I find very interesting is that the 14 Tests do not explicitly mention evangelism (as in 'spread the word') as a separate 'thing' that we should do. It's more an implicit reference in many of the Tests.

    In Matthew 28:19 "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations" we have a very clear command and through the ages we've taken this as one of the most important 'missions' of the Church to do just that.

    However, Frank's 'Tests' give us a more considered view that Church is much bigger than just recruiting for God's army, it's about how we live with our brothers and the rest of the world, how we act in our everyday lives that brings us (and hopefully others) to know Jesus more.

    For me, it shows how we need to not compartmentalise our lives into our 'every day' 'Church' 'Mission' lives but that our WHOLE lives should be about that.

    It's also about how these could work for the Christian Nation as a whole, not just our local Church.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Rob. Frank Viola covered evangelism and the Great Commission on his blog not long ago!


    I think he's overdoing it in a couple of places, but he's bang on (IMHO!) when he says that sharing God's good news will just happen once we are pursuing God whole-heartedly ourselves. Viola says, "Pursue Jesus Christ with others, get to know Him deeply, and evangelism and the like will take of itself." What think ye?

  3. Ooh.. now THAT is interesting....

    The Matthew verse I quoted then was an instruction to the experienced and trained Disciples.. not just to Joe Public....

    So may not actually have been the command we take for granted.

    Love it!