What is a Church?

Much has been debated about the definition of a church. Is a church defined by having a paid pastor? A building? A calendar of programs and events? Or can a church be two people praying together. What is the essence of what defines a church? In The Forgotten Ways, Alan Hirsch defines a church like this:

  1. A covenanted community - a church is formed not by people just hanging out together, but ones bound together in a distinctive bond. There is a certain obligation toward one another formed around covenant.
  2. Centered on Jesus - He is the new covenant with God and he thus forms as the true epicenter of an authentic Christ-ian faith...A covenant community centered around Jesus participates in the salvation that he brings. We receive the grace of God in him. But, more is required to truly constitute a church.
  3. A true encounter with God in Jesus must result in...

  4. Worship, defined as offering our lives back to God through Jesus.
  5. Discipleship, defined as following Jesus and becoming increasingly like him (Christlikeness)
  6. Mission, defined as extending the mission of God through the activities of his people.

This book, and my time with the author, has my brain whirling. What do you think of this definition of the church? Agree or disagree with Alan?

Tim Stevens13 Comments