The Church Defined

I recently came across this definition of the church from Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears (This is how we define the church):

The local church is a community of regenerated believers who confess Jesus Christ as Lord. In obedience to Scripture they organize under qualified leadership, gather regularly for preaching and worship, observe the biblical sacraments of baptism and Communion, are unified by the Spirit, are disciplined for holiness, and scatter to fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission as missionaries to the world for God’s glory and their joy.

I found this definition particularly helpful in comparing it to what I compiled by way of preaching the recent sermon series, “Why the Church Matters”. Here is my best summary. The church is:

  • A people who submit to the Father through Jesus by submitting to the Spirit-inspired word.
  • A local gathering with a biblically qualified shepherding and caring authority (1 Timothy 1:1-13; 1 Peter 1:1-5; Hebrews 13:17).
  • Universal: The true people of God in Christ for all time (Matt. 16:18).
  • Local: A visible gathering or assembly of people in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:2).
  • God’s plan to display and advance the gospel to all creation (Ephesians 3:8-11, Acts 1:8 and all of Acts).
  • A local body with various gifts from the same Spirit, unified for the common good and joy of others, and God’s glory through Jesus (1 Cor. 12:1-30).
  • A united household of God that has been reconciled by the blood of Christ (Eph. 2:11-22).
  • Summary: The church is God’s possession and plan.

About brentprentice

Brent is the lead pastor and one of the Elders at Eagle Heights in Stillwater, Oklahoma. He has been married to Lacey for 14 years and together they love two sons, Luke and Elijah, and a daughter, Bella.

Posted on October 14, 2010, in The Local Church. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Is there no congregationalism in your definition?

  2. The office of member is expressed in most of my summary. If you were looking for a business meeting, the answer is no 😉

  3. I do think there is a mutual accountability between the congregation and the elders but the primary authority lies with Jesus as the chief shepherd, who gave authority to the apostles, who established the authority of the NT scripture, that gives the primary governing authority to the biblically qualified elders and the serving deacons. I agree that there is a sense in which the congregation does give consensus or helps makes decisions – I don’t mean that the elders are an oligarchy – but it seems that the role of the congregation is much more descriptive than prescriptive and it is the elders who have been commanded and told to lead with the scriptures guiding and the Holy Spirit leading. If my memory serves me correctly it seems the times the congregation was called to decide, it was still under the supervision or the direction of the apostles or elders and what is being modeled is good leadership – involving others who are also indwelt with the Spirit. I just feel really strongly that a lot of what we have seen with “the business meeting model” of congregationalism is not in keeping with the NT. There is a place for wise leadership that involves others and brings people along, but ultimately the leaders are accountable to Jesus by way of the scriptures. If the leaders step out of line with that the yes the congregation may have to act. But let’s face it, most of the time congregations act is not over doctrinal issues but over preference issues – including, we don’t like the pastor we called earlier as God’s man. What say you Chad?

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