What is a Church
A building is useful if it
is cold or if it is raining, but a
building is not
A church is
a group of people
in fellowship with each other. It should be a
complete answer to the question What is a Church? can be found
in the new book from Kingwatch Books. It also explains the
ideas on this website in more detail.
Where we Live
here to find our more
The foundational relationships are those
between the elders. Elders are an essential part of the church.
This diagram shows five elders. A church
at least four or five elders. The lines represent the
strong relationships they have with each other. They
will be totally committed to each other, so they will be
willing to accept encouragement and correction
In every place where there was a group of disciples, Paul and
Barnabas appointed Elders ( Acts
14:22,23). This was all that was needed to make a group
of disciples into a Church. Nothing more was needed. So in the New
Testament, a Church was a group of believers in a particular place, who
were overseen by elders. The elders have two key priorities.
- Elders are responsible for ensuring that every Christian
in their care grows to maturity and develops their own
ministry. Every member should be following Jesus in
their calling in the world.
- Elders are responsible for building relationships
between the Christians in their Church.
(For leadership by elders to become a reality, a radical change
in the nature of church leadership will be required. For
further understanding of what the Bible teaches, see a Radical
Each elder will have strong relationships
with the people that they are discipling or overseeing.
Here is one of the elders. He has strong
pastoral gifts (P). Many of the people he is discipling also have
pastoral gifts. This elder has a strong relationship
with about a dozen Christians. The large circles
represent Christians who are more mature. They just need
oversight. The smaller circles represent new Christians
who need more discipling. The lines representing the
relationships are all the same thickness, reflecting equal
strength. The elder will spend more time with the newer
Christian to achieve the same strength of relationship as with those
he knows better.
The elder will also work to establish relationships
between the Christians receiving oversight. He will focus on
ensuring that each Christian is part of a Pair. Every believer
should be in a relationship with one or two other Christians who can provide the following:
- A warning when taking the wrong path (Col 3:16)
- A challenge to besetting sin (James 5:16)
- Support when standing against demonic attack (1 Thes 5:11)
- Encouragement in ministry (Heb 3:18)
- Comfort when things go wrong. (1 Thes 4:18)
(For further understanding of how these relationships should
work, see Power Pairs.)
This is what the relationships look like when they
are all put together.
Here is another elder. He is more
prophetic (R) in his style and gifting. He will draw
Christians who also tend to be prophetic. He will not be so
strong on discipling new Christians. He will not be able
to care for as many people as someone with pastoral gifts.
However, he will still establish a strong relationship with each
Christian under his oversight. He will also build the relationships between them.
This elder is an evangelist (V). He tends to
have a lot of new Christians around him. He is also training
some more mature Christians who are keen on evangelism. This
elder also builds strong relationships with and between the
Christians he is accountable for.
Here are two more elders with strong pastoral gifts.
They are each exercising oversight over about a dozen
Christians. They have strong relationships with them and are
also building strong relationships between them.
If we remember that each of the elders described above
have strong relationships with each other, we see another dimension
of the network.
The relationships between the elders, bring all
these separate groups of people together.
The relationships between the elders will be the
strongest relationships. They will also draw all the
The elders have also built relationships between
some of the people who are under the oversight of different
elders. When all the relationships in the church
are imposed on the diagram, it looks like this.
The church consists of people. However it is
not just any group of people. It is a group of people who are
bound together by strong relationships. To show this more
clearly, I will remove the people from the diagram (this is for
illustration, I am not saying that they are not important). I
have made the lines gold, to show that the relationships are precious.
A church is a network of relationships.
The lines on the diagram are just some of the relationships that
hold the church together. They are the supporting ligaments
which join and hold the body of Christ together in love and
allow it to grow up in love in Jesus (Ephesians 4:16) In
contrast, relationships in the modern church tend to be more like a dandelion.
The focus of the elders should not be on maintaining
buildings or running programs. Their primary focus should be
on building and maintaining relationships.
Meetings will only be really useful if they
strengthen these relationships. On the other hand, it will be possible
to maintain these relationships, even if the whole church cannot meet
together. This is very useful in times of persecution.
Relationships in which we can strengthen and support one
another are the heart of the church. The depth of the
relationships between its members will determine the strength of
the church. The quality of the relationships is more
important than the quality of the leadership.
Relationships are Essential
A Church consists of the relationships between its members
(and relationships with God). Christianity is fellowship with God and with other Christians.
Therefore, a church must be a group in which members get to know each
other well. The Christians of the New Testament developed very strong
relationships with each other. A Church was a community in which people
shared their lives in an intimate way (Acts 2:44,46). Their strong
commitment to each other contributed to their spiritual strength and
A church is a network of people, who each have a relationship
with Jesus, and who are bound together by relationships with each other. They
will be joined together by
love. For this to take place we
need a radical change in our understanding of the church.
(This same point is make in Ezekiel.)
A church is not an institution.
modern church is a bewilderingly complex array of structures,
activities and programs that can sometimes prevent the world from seeing Jesus.
Programs are useful, if they provide people with skills that
they need. However programs do not make a church.
Programs do not join the body together, so that it builds
itself in love (Eph 4:14-16).
People come from all over the place to attend a
program. Only a few of those who come have strong
relationships with each other. Most others do not know each
other very well.
While they are on the programme the people get to
know each other quite well.
However once they leave, they go their own
way. The people who had a strong relationship, before
they joined the program, will find their relationship is
strengthened. A few others may establish relationships
that will last. However, most just drift apart again.
A church is a very simple thing. It is quite simply a group of
Christians in a locality who are committed to each other,
who meet regularly for worship and fellowship, and who are overseen by
elders. There are two defining characteristics of a church.
Relationships are the heart of the church, so locality
is very important for a church. Each Church should be attached to a particular
locality, and there can be as many Churches as there are different
localities. However, each locality should only have one Church.
Properly understood, this is a very radical but biblical idea.
have a number of different kinds of church in the same locality is
inconsistent with the New Testament.