Ten Observations about the New Testament Church

scot-mcknight-31Today’s guest post comes to us from Scot McKnight, a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. Scot has also authored more than fifty books and is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

A local church has the capacity to adjust itself to its environment and, so long as the environment is redemptive, adjustment is good. When the environment is not redemptive, adjustment is compromised. I believe this is why many today use the term “institutional” for the church: they are saying the church has become not what it should be but more like culture.

To rethink what the church needs to be we need to return to the period of the apostles (and behind them to Jesus’ own kingdom vision) to see how they thought about the church. James Thompson, author of The Church according to Paul, has some observations about Paul’s churches that deserve strong consideration today. Here are ten theses in Thompson’s own words. [My words in brackets.]

1. He nowhere mentions administrative institutions that coordinate or have authority over the activities of the local community. [That is, no pope, no monarchical bishops, no centralization; local, local, local.]

2. That Paul thought of the church in universal terms is most evident in his use of the terms ekklesia and hagioi (“saints”). Although he employs both terms for the local community, the language is from Israel and expresses Paul’s understanding of the continuity of the church with Israel as the people of God.

3. Although Paul gives no indication that he envisions a universal church that was administratively connected, he envisions koinonia within the local church and among the churches at the regional and international level. [The “unity” is a unity in fellowship.]

Click here to read the full article and remaining seven observations.

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About Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy is an experienced church growth strategist, pastor, church planter and coach, consulting with churches around the world. As founder of Church Leader Insights and the Renegade Pastors Network, he has personally trained more than 3,500 church leaders in over 45 denominations through live events, seminars and monthly coaching. Nelson is also the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, with locations across New York City and in Boca Raton, FL. Nelson and his church routinely appear on lists such as “The 50 Most Influential Churches” and “The 25 Most Innovative Leaders.” He is the author of over 100 church growth resources and 18+ books, including The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life, Ministry and The Difference Maker: Using Your Everyday Life for Eternal Impact, and At the Cross with the People Who Were There. He and his wife, Kelley, have one son, Alexander.

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