Doing Something New..!

New Church Community

Meeting Study Notes

What is Church..?

Hello Friends,

It was a pleasure having you in our home this past Sabbath afternoon. Here are the study notes I used from that meeting. As you look them over, take a moment to ask God for direction and conviction on what He has to say to you personally.

Vintage Faith by SetsNService.

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Why was this meeting called?

  • We wanted to touch base with those of you who expressed an interest in what the Lord would be leading us to do in the future.
  • To begin an important dialogue with those of you interested in a New Church Community in N Dallas.
  • We also want to share some insights God has given us from His word about His ‘church’.

Quick Update

We have been busy traveling, writing a dissertation, raising children and exploring all sorts of churches in N Dallas.  I made an unexpected trip to London in December to baptize my mother (re-baptize), and one of my dear nieces. It was a wonderful experience. Not very pastor gets to baptize his mother.  Flew back into Dallas on christmas day to be with Petronella and the children.

During this 5 month period God has led me to focus on a very basic but critical question about the church:  “What is church?” I was led to ask, What is it’s essential essence and what does He (God) want His church to look like today?

For the first time in many years we have been free to wander and check-out the SDA church scene in N. Dallas. It has been an enlightening and challenging experience.

Does Dallas need another church..?

Dallas is the fourth largest metro area in the US. It has the fastest growing population. One million people have moved into the DFW area since 2000. Over 145,000 people moved into the area between 2008-09. There are reportedly more than 2000 churches…

  • Let’s share some insights from His word…

What do you think when you hear the word ‘church’?

  1. There are numerous ideas and concepts of what church is…
    • Some of these are inadequate or incorrect. For instance, some think of church as mainly a building… a place in a particular location. This by far is the most common idea both inside and outside the church. It’s easy to understand – there are thousands of buildings called churches. In the Dallas Metroplex alone, there are many hundreds of churches conducting thousands of church services, meetings and a variety of activities.
  2. But long before there were any church buildings, there were many churches:
    • How did they meet and organize? They met in homes, in barns, in open places, in borrowed buildings. They met during war and persecution. They met in secret, in darkness, in candlelight, in basements, caves and moonlight forests. They met by rivers and lakes, in almost any place, and any time under the best and worse of circumstances.
  3. Church is not about buildings, land and assets.
    • It wasn’t until around the third century AD… that churches began to own and operate buildings. So thinking in terms of a building is an inadequate concept of church and doesn’t get us to the essential nature of it.

What is church?

  • Sometimes the word church is used to refer to organized Christianity or to a group of churches, what we call a denomination. This never occurs in the New Testament:
  • The local church is part of something much bigger than many of us imagine.
  • The local church is a colony – not the entire kingdom of God.
  • Membership in the local church should never be equated with salvation
  • Fellowship makes us part of the earthly kingdom of God, not membership

What was the NT church like?

  • Acts 2:5-11 The NT church was Cross Cultural – Multi-Ethnic
  • Acts 2:16-21 The NT church was Cross Generational, a healthy blend of all ages
  • Acts 2:42-46 The NT church was a Sharing, and generous Caring community

How did that church grow?

  • Acts 2:47 “The Lord added” Growth by divine acton
  • Acts 6:7 Growth by multiplication – functioning as a community that lived it’s beliefs for all to see

How did they interact with each other, what kind of relationships did they have?

  • Acts 4:34-37 They took responsibility for the concerns and needs of each otherHow was God’s presence manifested in this new community?
  • Acts 5:12-16 Signs and wonders were not outrageous ideas, they were expected
  • Acts 5:29 They were obedient to God – at all costs
  • Acts 5:42 The movement was ‘organic’ daily communing in their houses

How did the secular community react to them?

  • Acts 2:47a They enjoyed the favor with all the people…

Key Questions…

What is the difference between membership and fellowship?

Membership is simply about being part of a group…

  • It is friendly association with people who share and pursue a common, shared interest: Rotary club, gym, book club, volunteering…

Fellowship embraces the idea of membership but is far more…

  • It is companionship, mutual support, care and concern, generosity, camaraderie, friendship, togetherness, solidarity, alliance, brotherhood and benevolence… Christ is the cement that bonds a fellowship together.
  • The truth about many churches is that membership is common, but fellowship is rare.

“Nothing has brought more personal trauma in my ministry and pain to my heart than the absence of genuine fellowship amongst professed Christ followers. Authentic community is often absent from many organized churches. I know this because I have witnessed it first hand. The truth about church is that almost anyone can become a member but there can be no salvation without fellowship.”

Unknown

  • How can we become a community of Christ followers, committed to being “the kingdom of God” on earth, for this time..?

__________________________________________________________

In Conclusion

The book of Acts not only records the powerful events of the early church, but provides a true blueprint of what the church can and must become in our day. The picture of a dynamic, multi-ethnic, cross-generational, altruistic and committed fellowship is vividly portrayed.

Does North Dallas need another church..?

Perhaps not. Without doubt, it does need a vibrant community of faith, committed to living the Acts 2 blueprint for their time.

The challenge to (us), contemporary, western believers, who live in a relationally insulated, fragmented and individualistic culture, is to rediscover the vision of a community captivated by living the Acts 2 revolution.

We must therefore, redefine ‘church’ so it makes sense. We must seek to demystify the gospel by becoming living representations of its story. Our time is one in which people won’t believe truth because we say it, but will be convicted if we live it. Jesus declared; “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 13:35 tells us that Love is the defining quality.

Church is people who live-out the principles of God’s kingdom. This is done by living as a community of caring and dedicated Christ followers. That’s not normal. In fact it’s abnormal and requires divine help. Is this a priority ‘ask’ on our prayer list? It hasn’t been for me n the past, but we can change that.

Romans 12:2 highlights the core of this challenge;

“Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”

It is so important that we do not allow our ‘feelings’ or culture to define how we think, behave and live as Christians. We, the church must transcend culture and become counter-cultural.

Key question: Will we allow culture to define us, or Christ to transform us?

So, church is not a building, meeting place, or static, weekly appointment time. The church are the people who follow Jesus, are fully committed to living His principles are the church.

  • What would an Acts 2 community look like today?
  • What steps would be necessary to become a caring community, devoted to Christ?

We are the church!  It is through us that people can find the acceptance, healing and love of Christ. So, it’s time to stop ‘talking about’ and ‘going to’ church and take this and very opportunity to become ‘the church’.

Please write a comment or question.

Paul Hunt

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January 27, 2010 - Posted by | General Message, Jan 2010-Meeting Notes | , ,

3 Comments »

  1. Pastor Hunt,

    I enjoyed reading your article on what is Church. I was drawn to the section about belonging to a fellowship and not just having membership. I had just discussed teh lack of true fellowship that I have always felt at Richardson SDA and how I long to feel more of a sense of longing. It was then a blessing to read your stucy notes on this topic. I agree with you about how the fellowship among people with a common belief and purpose is what is needed amongst believers. Without this it is difficult to sustain our faith alone.

    Comment by Delbert Parks | January 30, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks Debert,
      I truly appreciate your honesty. With God’s help this new faith community will strive to make ‘fellowship’ a core priority. I look forward to partnering with your family to make this a reality. Warmest Regards

      Pastor Paul

      Comment by Paul Hunt | February 1, 2010 | Reply

  2. Hi Paul,
    I hope that you and Petronella and the children are well. I came across your notes quite by accident and it seems that the LORD is indeed at work in these days. I have responsibility for three different sizes and types of churches (in the Welsh Mission) and the question we are considering is what is church according to the bible particularly the book of Acts. It is particularly interesting as they serve different communities with different needs and I have found that although there are sound basic biblical principles that we can follow, we need to reflect and serve the community that we are in. I will follow your notes with interest and look forward to reading your completed dissertation. Take care my friend love to the family and God bless.

    Pastor Clyde

    Comment by Clyde Moore | February 27, 2010 | Reply


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