5 Characteristics Of A Christian Congregation

Started by Dave Likeness, October 07, 2019, 06:43:49 PM

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Charles Austin

Pastor Fienen states:
So, when Paul encouraged Timothy to "preach the word," that has nothing to do with the church today? When Peter talked about how Christians should treat each other that says nothing to us in the church today?  What Paul tells the churches in his epistles has minimal applicability to church today?
I comment:
This is your usual overstatement and taking a single comment to its illogical extremes. I should stop responding to those kind of comments.
I do not think that the New Testament writers could've imagined a structured, institutional, denominational church in the form that we have it today. We still preach and teach and do many of the things that they did then, but how we do such things and the other things that we do because we have been called to do so are quite different.
Iowa-born. Long-time in NY/New Jersey, former LWF staff in Geneva.
ELCA PASTOR, ordained 1967. Former journalist. Retired in Minneapolis. Often critical of the ELCA, but more often a defender of its mission. Ignoring the not-so-subtle rude insults which often appear here.

Terry W Culler

The visible church of NT times is indeed the church of today, it is found where the Gospel is preached and the Sacraments administered, in the local congregation.  The NT does not envision denominations or hierarchies, but it does speak of pastors and congregants gathered under the Word of God through the Holy Spirit.
"No particular Church has ... a right to existence, except as it believes itself the most perfect from of Christianity, the form which of right, should and will be universal."
Charles Porterfield Krauth

Dave Likeness

#17
The Apostle Peter in his first letter was stressing the importance of congregational members
being able to get along with one another as they shared the love of Christ.  The virtues of harmony,
sympathy, love, compassion, and humility were necessary before they could share the love of Christ
with the rest of the world.  This is basic Christianity 101. 

We have all known parishes who fought like the Hatfields and McCoys among each other. They failed
to demonstrate the love of Christ for one another.  How could they be effective in sharing the love of
Christ in their community?  Evangelism will not happen in a parish torn apart by bitter feelings among
their members.

Bottom Line: Al Barry's 5 point vision for LCMS needs care for one another and live in peace  before
you can tell the Good News of Jesus.   Matthew Harrison"s 3 point vision for LCMS needs life together
(koinonia) before you witness (martyria)

Dan Fienen

Quote from: Charles Austin on October 08, 2019, 09:21:52 AM
Pastor Fienen states:
So, when Paul encouraged Timothy to "preach the word," that has nothing to do with the church today? When Peter talked about how Christians should treat each other that says nothing to us in the church today?  What Paul tells the churches in his epistles has minimal applicability to church today?
I comment:
This is your usual overstatement and taking a single comment to its illogical extremes. I should stop responding to those kind of comments.
I do not think that the New Testament writers could've imagined a structured, institutional, denominational church in the form that we have it today. We still preach and teach and do many of the things that they did then, but how we do such things and the other things that we do because we have been called to do so are quite different.
Quote from: Charles Austin on October 08, 2019, 06:55:00 AM
I know that virtually nothing in scripture envisions the contemporary, institutional, denominational "church" or even the church of the Third or Fourth centuries and beyond.
So that is what you ment, I didn't find your statement in the context of a discussion of what was described as Peter's description of the church at all clear.


Obviously much has changed as the world has changed. We need to apply what God has revealed to the church of old to our new situations, but we are not so divorced from the Gospel which is our heart or Jesus who is our head that the NT becomes for us an historical curiosity, interesting in the way that those genealogy service and DNA tests to tell us where we are from but say little about what we are.
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

Steven Tibbetts

Quote from: Charles Austin on October 08, 2019, 09:21:52 AM

This is your usual overstatement and taking a single comment to its illogical extremes. I should stop responding to those kind of comments.

You should also stop making those kind of comments.

spt+
The Rev. Steven Paul Tibbetts, STS
Pastor Zip's Blog

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: Dan Fienen on October 08, 2019, 07:07:40 AM
Quote from: Charles Austin on October 08, 2019, 06:55:00 AM
I know that virtually nothing in scripture envisions the contemporary, institutional, denominational "church" or even the church of the Third or Fourth centuries and beyond.
So, when Paul encouraged Timothy to "preach the word," that has nothing to do with the church today? When Peter talked about how Christians should treat each other that says nothing to us in the church today?  What Paul tells the churches in his epistles has minimal applicability to church today?


Is there no continuities between the church of the NT and church of today?


Very little. While the word, "church," κυριακός (δῶμα) - "the Lord's (house)" and it is often used to refer to a building. The NT uses the word, ἐκκλεσία, which, I believe is mistranslated "church". The ἐκκλεσία was those who "assembled" in response to the town crier's call to assemble. Those who didn't assemble were not considered part of the ἐκκλεσία. The church of the NT had no buildings, but was small enough to meet in homes. Part of the worship was patterned after what happened in the Jewish synagogue, which was more like a Sunday school class than a worship service. A text was read and there was discussion about the text. There were prayers.Eventually, besides the LXX, the early church had letters from Paul and others that were read. They passed on oral stories of Jesus that came from the apostles. These were eventually written down into the Gospels (both canonical and others). The other part of the gathering centered around a (pot-luck) meal that included blessing bread and wine for the eucharist. The members who were unable to assemble for the Word and Meal, were taken the Meal (like someone taking some of the pot-luck meal home for someone who couldn't attend, e.g., work or sickness). The "church" wanted every member to receive the blessed Meal every time it occurred.
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

Dave Likeness

When the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at  Ephesus, he commended them for their faith
in the Lord jesus and their love for one another. (Eph. 1:15)

A generation later in the book of Revelation, we read the letter of Christ to the church at Ephesus.
He rebukes them for having abandoned the love they had at first. (Rev. 2:4)

It is possible for a Christian congregation to lose their love for Christ and one another.   It is not
something that we can take for granted that our love for Christ and others will always be a reality.

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: Dave Likeness on October 08, 2019, 04:59:07 PM
When the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at  Ephesus, he commended them for their faith
in the Lord Jesus and their love for one another. (Eph. 1:15)

A generation later in the book of Revelation, we read the letter of Christ to the church at Ephesus.
He rebukes them for having abandoned the love they had at first. (Rev. 2:4)

It is possible for a Christian congregation to lose their love for Christ and one another.   It is not
something that we can take for granted that our love for Christ and others will always be a reality.


The church at Ephesus is interesting. How did they abandon the love they had at first? By hating what the Nicolaitans are doing (2:6). While they are commended for this, this hatred of heresy had bred an inquisitorial spirit that left no room for love. They don't put up with those who are evil. They test those who claim to be apostles. They go around looking for lies. They had set out to be defenders of the faith, arming themselves with the heroic virtues of truth and courage, only to discover that in the battle they had lost the most important quality. Without love all others are worthless. In trying so hard to be the perfect church with no falsehood, they became judgmental haters rather than acting out of love. If they don't change, their lampstand will be removed: they will cease to be a real church. Their light will no longer shine in the world.               

I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

Dave Likeness

On the evening before Jesus was crucified he told his disciples:

"A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
By this all men will know that you are my disciples.  If you love one another."

To love others was not new.  However, to love others as much as Jesus loved others, this was new.
To love others based on the self-sacrificing love of Jesus will identify us as His disciples.

When people see our congregation what do they see?   Bickering among the members or do they
know you are Jesus' disciples by your love for one another.


Charles Austin

Dave Likeness writes:
And how many people outside the church see anything in our congregations? What exactly would they see? How would they see it?
I do not think that simply having a peaceful loving congregation is much of an outreach.
Iowa-born. Long-time in NY/New Jersey, former LWF staff in Geneva.
ELCA PASTOR, ordained 1967. Former journalist. Retired in Minneapolis. Often critical of the ELCA, but more often a defender of its mission. Ignoring the not-so-subtle rude insults which often appear here.

David Garner

Quote from: Charles Austin on October 08, 2019, 11:49:45 PM
Dave Likeness writes:
And how many people outside the church see anything in our congregations? What exactly would they see? How would they see it?
I do not think that simply having a peaceful loving congregation is much of an outreach.

Do your people live in a compound?  Do they never stray outside the fortress?
Orthodox Reader and former Lutheran (LCMS and WELS).

David Garner

Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on October 08, 2019, 08:50:31 PM
Quote from: Dave Likeness on October 08, 2019, 04:59:07 PM
When the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at  Ephesus, he commended them for their faith
in the Lord Jesus and their love for one another. (Eph. 1:15)

A generation later in the book of Revelation, we read the letter of Christ to the church at Ephesus.
He rebukes them for having abandoned the love they had at first. (Rev. 2:4)

It is possible for a Christian congregation to lose their love for Christ and one another.   It is not
something that we can take for granted that our love for Christ and others will always be a reality.


The church at Ephesus is interesting. How did they abandon the love they had at first? By hating what the Nicolaitans are doing (2:6). While they are commended for this, this hatred of heresy had bred an inquisitorial spirit that left no room for love. They don't put up with those who are evil. They test those who claim to be apostles. They go around looking for lies. They had set out to be defenders of the faith, arming themselves with the heroic virtues of truth and courage, only to discover that in the battle they had lost the most important quality. Without love all others are worthless. In trying so hard to be the perfect church with no falsehood, they became judgmental haters rather than acting out of love. If they don't change, their lampstand will be removed: they will cease to be a real church. Their light will no longer shine in the world.               

I assume you realize, because you say "they are commended for this," that Jesus is not making an argument against steadfastness, but in fact was praising the Ephesians for their steadfastness.  He praises them for testing those who claim to be Apostles and are not.  He praises them for not bearing those who are evil.

I mean, he even says "you hate the work of the Nicolations, which I also hate."

You take this and turn it on its head, saying the Ephesians were "trying so hard to be the perfect church with no falsehood, they became judgmental haters."  Literally every word of that you added to the text.  Your gloss on these things is always a sort of reverse ad hominem.  It's always more about what you want to say than what the Scriptures are saying.
Orthodox Reader and former Lutheran (LCMS and WELS).

Eileen Smith

Quote from: Charles Austin on October 08, 2019, 11:49:45 PM
Dave Likeness writes:
And how many people outside the church see anything in our congregations? What exactly would they see? How would they see it?
I do not think that simply having a peaceful loving congregation is much of an outreach.

Bit it is!  We offer a repast to families after the funeral.  Members of the church set up, cook, serve, clean up.  We have several dinners a year that non-members attend.  We have a ministry of distributing clothing to those in poverty and the community is invited on Mondays to help sort and/or drive the boxes to distribution centers.  We've had people join our congregation based on how the members treat one another - how they care for one another. 

David Garner

Quote from: Eileen Smith on October 09, 2019, 08:17:50 AM
Quote from: Charles Austin on October 08, 2019, 11:49:45 PM
Dave Likeness writes:
And how many people outside the church see anything in our congregations? What exactly would they see? How would they see it?
I do not think that simply having a peaceful loving congregation is much of an outreach.

Bit it is!  We offer a repast to families after the funeral.  Members of the church set up, cook, serve, clean up.  We have several dinners a year that non-members attend.  We have a ministry of distributing clothing to those in poverty and the community is invited on Mondays to help sort and/or drive the boxes to distribution centers.  We've had people join our congregation based on how the members treat one another - how they care for one another.

We have as well. 
Orthodox Reader and former Lutheran (LCMS and WELS).

Charles Austin

I am not talking about the good things the congregations do. I'm speaking to the idea of merely having a happy peaceful congregation was somehow or other going to make people look at us and like us. People looking for happiness have plenty of places to find it. People are looking for caring groups have plenty of places to find those too, I know lots of groups of care for their members more than some congregations I know about.
What do we have to offer that is distinct, special, uniquely ours, something you cannot get anywhere else? Are people looking for that one special thing, do they know where to find it? How can we make it known that we have one special thing that is ours to give?
But the bigger deal is, and it is a much bigger deal, how do we reach out with this one special thing to people who don't know about it or where to find it?
Our people do not live in "compounds." But Lutherans are notorious for not talking about their faith. We'll talk about a good restaurant, a good movie, a good trip, but we do not talk about going to a good church. The truth is, we don't even know ourselves ourselves why we go there.
And we are lousy at explaining what "church" does for us or why that matters.
Iowa-born. Long-time in NY/New Jersey, former LWF staff in Geneva.
ELCA PASTOR, ordained 1967. Former journalist. Retired in Minneapolis. Often critical of the ELCA, but more often a defender of its mission. Ignoring the not-so-subtle rude insults which often appear here.

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