City Church: Meeting

May 28, 2008

Note: This is the second post of a “chain blog” concerning the topic of “city church.”

Upon noting that the New Testament churches were partly defined by the city where they were located, Alan Knox started this chain blog regarding the biblical concept of the “city church” and posted the following questions:

“Is it valid for us to discount the “city church” in the New Testament and assume that it has no validity for us today? If the concept of a “city church” is valid today, then what would that look like? I’ve listed several categories below. What does the idea of “city church” look like in each category?”

The categories that he lists are the following:

Meeting, Leadership, Activities, Cooperation, Structure

You can read the original post here

This is a complicated, but challenging, subject. In the New Testament, there seemed to be one church per city. As was the custom, Paul and others would visit a region or city that had never heard the Gospel and would plant a church there. There was no need for multiple congregations because the church had not grown to the point where a split would have happened (at least to my knowledge). This practice would be very similar to a situation where if I moved to Region X – a place that had never previously heard the Gospel – and preached the Gospel, some would become converted and a church would be born. However, “Christendom” has been around for close to 2,000 years now and there are many denominations, as well as heretical movements, that exist. One fundamental question throughout this entire chain blog series will undoubtedly be, “Is it possible for a city church to exist in a region where Christ has already been preached and the Gospel has already been established?” That is the question that I will seek to answer generally. Specifically, I will seek to comment on how that would work out in terms of its gathering together.

The Assembling (Meeting) of the City Church

1) Would a “city church” meet together?

In an area where the Gospel has been established, perhaps the first step to making a “city church” work would be the coming together of like-minded congregations. These congregations would have to agree to certain doctrinal beliefs. I would say that an “orthodox” view of Christianity and the Bible would be the overarching belief for a city church to work. Another key factor for a city church to work would be for these like-minded, Bible-believing congregations to hold an initial joint meeting to perhaps establish or even cast what their vision is for them and the city itself.

What would be the purpose of such a meeting?

The purpose of the meeting at this point would be to clarify if they were either (a) going to merge into one local church or (b) be some form of association of independent congregations that met together regularly. Obviously, the ramifications as to which route the members chose would steer this ship to two very different paths.

Who would organize the meeting?

This questions assumes that certain congregations have already been batting this idea around. I would think that the leadership of each congregation (however they defined that term) would meet and discuss the purpose of the initial meeting.

What activities should be part of a “city church” meeting?

I see two possible scenarios of an initial meeting.

a. A meeting to discuss what the city church will be – This would be a joint meeting with members of all of the congregations coming together and in proper business meeting format giving input as to what the goal of the church would be. Obviously, the ground rules for this type of meeting will have to be laid so that the meeting would not get “out of order.”

b. A meeting to cast the vision of the purpose of the city church – This meeting would assume that the groundwork for the city church has already begun. This meeting would be the “launch” of the city church itself. It would cast a vision for the mission and purpose of the city church. This meeting would go a long way in determining or informing the leadership, activities, cooperation, and structure of the city church.

——————————————————————–

Chain blog rules:
1) If you would like to write the next blog post (link) in this chain, leave a comment stating that you would like to do so. If someone else has already requested to write the next link, then please wait for that blog post and leave a comment there requesting to write the following link.
2) Feel free to leave comments here and discuss items in this blog post without taking part in the actual “chain”. Your comments and discussion are very important in this chain blog.
3) When you write a link in this chain, please reply in the comments of the previous link to let everyone know that your link is ready. Also, please try to keep an updated list of links in the chain at the bottom of your post, and please include these rules at the bottom of your post.

Thanks for reading my input into this chain blog. The next person may go his own way or he could tackle the next subject that was brought up, that of Leadership.
—————————————————

“City Church” Chain
Link 1: “City Church – A Chain Blog” by Alan Knox
Link 2: “City Church – Meeting” by Charlie Wallace

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8 Responses to “City Church: Meeting”

  1. Alan Knox Says:

    Charlie,

    Thank you for writing the second link in this chain blog. This is a new experiment, so I’m interested to see what kind of discussion we can have in a series of blog posts on the same subject.

    While your descriptions are a little more organized that I was thinking, I appreciate many of the points that you brought out. Like you said, there is a different between the cultural context of the early church and our own cultural context. The question that we’re trying to answer, and which you’re helping answer with this post, is this: Is the idea of a church in a city only cultural?

    What type of doctrinal beliefs do you think would be necessary for people to recognize themselves as one church in a city? Do you think this could be based on something similar to the Nicaean creed, or does it need to be more detailed? Is it possible to use something as simple as 1 Cor 15:1-3?

    Do you think its possible to recognize a church in a city without a meeting of that church? In other words, I live near Raleigh. Is it possible to recognize a “Church in Raleigh” even if that “church” never meets together at the same place and same time?

    Again, thanks for the post. I’m looking forward to reading other comments and future posts.

    -Alan

  2. David Rogers Says:

    Charlie,

    I am working on a follow-up post that I hope to have ready within the next couple of days (and maybe sooner). I will post a notice here when it is up.

    David

  3. David Rogers Says:

    My post, “Roadblocks on the Path to the City Church,” is now on-line here:

    http://loveeachstone.blogspot.com/2008/05/roadblocks-on-path-to-city-church.html


  4. David:

    I think that you asked some good questions. I do not think though that the city church would meet together. Especially with where we are now at in our lives – I think that it would be a disaster.

    In Alan’s comments back to me; I agree with him that it is relational gathering of a sorts – not really ‘represenatives’.

    The coming together for the purpose of the city though would be a great aplogetics aspect. If the churches would be willing, I would love to see each church has a “definied” goal purpose in where they would help the body of Christ reach the purpose of the lingdom.

    Where I see red flags at in my situations is that most churches believe that it is about them and not the kingdom of God.

    The city churches would need to know that it is not about you but the Kingdom.


  5. Alan,

    My thinking has to be organized or I won’t make any sense!

    “What type of doctrinal beliefs do you think would be necessary for people to recognize themselves as one church in a city? Do you think this could be based on something similar to the Nicaean creed, or does it need to be more detailed? Is it possible to use something as simple as 1 Cor 15:1-3?”

    I would think that there would definitely have to be some type of confession. Which one, I don’t know…

    “Do you think its possible to recognize a church in a city without a meeting of that church? In other words, I live near Raleigh. Is it possible to recognize a “Church in Raleigh” even if that “church” never meets together at the same place and same time?”

    I think it would be possible, but I’m not sure how…

  6. Alan Knox Says:

    Charlie,

    When I said “your descriptions are a little more organized that I was thinking” I was talking about your descriptions of “city church”, not the organization of your thoughts. 🙂

    Thank you for thinking through this topic with us. I think it is helpful to hear different perspectives.

    -Alan


  7. […] fourth link in a chain blog started by Alan Knox. Alan wrote the first link, which was followed by Charlie Wallace, and most recently by David […]

  8. Alan Knox Says:

    I’ve posted link #8 in this chain blog in a post called “Unity and the Church in a City“.

    -Alan


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