The biblical model for the church

An organizational challenge by Howard Snyder

A charismatic or organic model is one marked by community, interpersonal relationships, mutuality and interdependence. It is flexible and leaves room for a high degree of spontaneity. The Bible gives us such a model for the Church: the human body. . . . All biblical figures for the church suggest a charismatic and organic rather than an institutional, model: tree, vine, flock, family, nation, household and even the living and growing “holy temple.”

~ Community of the King, p. 67

All spiritual gifts contribute to evangelism

by Howard Snyder

. .. where Christian fellowship demonstrates the gospel, believers come alive and sinners get curious and want to know what the secret is. So true Christian community (koinonia) becomes both the basis and the goal of evangelism. .. . The community is the only effective school for discipleship. . . . All spiritual gifts contribute to evangelism in one way or another.

~ Community of the King, p. 125

What is alive grows

by Howard Snyder

What is alive grows. Normal church growth is spontaneous in the sense that the nature of the Church is to grow—spiritually, numerically and in its cultural impact. . . . Church growth is not a matter of bringing to the church that which is necessary for growth, for if Christ is there, the seeds of growth are already preset. Rather, church growth is a matter of removing the hindrances to growth. The Church will naturally grow if not limited by unbiblical barriers.

~ Community of the King, p. 119

Spiritual growth occurs best in a caring community

by Howard Snyder

Spiritual growth occurs best in a caring community. There are spiritual truths I will never grasp and Christian standards I will never attain except as I share in community with other believers—and this is God’s plan. The Holy Spirit ministers to us, in large measure, through each other.

This is what Paul is talking about when he says “we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work (Eph.4:15-16). this interaction of the many members in one body is body life. Karl Barth rightly points out that when the New Testament speaks of upbuilding, it “speaks always of the upbuilding of the community. I can edify myself only as I edify the community.” . . . The first task of every Christian is the edification of the community of believers. If we say that evangelism or soul winning is the first task of the believer, we do violence to the New Testament and place a burden on the backs of some believers that they are not able to bear. the idea that every Christian’s first responsibility is to be a soul winner ignores the biblical teachings about spiritual gifts. Further, it puts all the emphasis at the one point of conversion and undervalues the upbuilding of the Church which is essential for effective evangelism and church growth. . . .

Fellowship and community life are necessary within the church in order to equip Christians for their various kinds of witness and service.

~ Community of the King, p. 75-6

Jesus emphasized community

by Howard Snyder

If Jesus Christ actually gave more time to preparing a community of disciples than to proclaiming the good news (which he did), then the contemporary Church must also recognize the importance of community.

~ Community of the King, p. 74

Spiritual growth occurs best in a caring community

by Howard Snyder

God does not use the Church as a lifeless object, for this would be contrary to all he wants to do within the Church. God’s will is that the Church and each member within it attain “the full measure of perfection found in Christ” (Eph. 4:13). God wants spiritual growth-to-maturity in the Church. As the Church thus grows, it will accomplish God’s plan to make known “through the church, the manifold wisdom of God… to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 3:10). (pg 69)

Too often the Church has been seen more as a mere collection of saved souls than as a community of interacting personalities. Christian growth has been a matter of individual soul culture rather than the building of the community of the Spirit. (pg 74)

Spiritual growth occurs best in a caring community… The Holy Spirit ministers to us, in large measure, through each other. This is what Paul is talking about when he says “we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Eph. 4:15-16). This interaction of the many members in one body is body life. (pg 75)

~ The Community of the King

14 Gospel Distortions (Howard Snyder)

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A very good set of observations by Howard Snyder, and if you go to the link he fleshes out each one. This issue of distorting the gospel is at the heart of our The King Jesus Gospel.

1. Interpret the gospel primarily through Romans.

2. Focus solely on “personal salvation.”

3. Make heaven the goal.

4. The clergy/laity split.

5. Thinking economics and politics are not directly gospel concerns.

6. De-prioritize community.

7. Neglect the Old Testament.

8. Limit justice to personal righteousness.

9. Neglect intercession.

10. “Believers” instead of disciples.

11. Substitute heaven for the kingdom of God.

12. Faith just a part of life.

13. Disregard Genesis 9.

14. Divorce discipleship from creation care.

Church gatherings in Acts

by Robert Girard

… by the standards of Christian modernity, there weren’t any “good services” in the Book of Acts. Nearly every time a meeting is described something disturbing, stretching, or donfronting is going on.

~ Brethern, Hang Together, p. 96

Christian life in a non-christian world is tension

by Howard Snyder

In some contexts the Church must exist almost exclusively as a counterculture; in other situations society may be so leavened by the gospel that active political and social participation is possible. . .. Obedience to the gospel in a world where Satan is still active means living with tension. . . . We should be alarmed when we are at home in the world or have total “peace of mind.” Christian life in a non-christian world is tension, stress and at times even agony.

~ Community of the King, p. 115

All spiritual gifts contribute to evangelism

by Howard Snyder

. .. where Christian fellowship demonstrates the gospel, believers come alive and sinners get curious and want to know what the secret is. So true Christian community (koinonia) becomes both the basis and the goal of evangelism. .. . The community is the only effective school for discipleship. . . . All spiritual gifts contribute to evangelism in one way or another.

~ Community of the King, p. 125