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A New Kind of Church for a New Kind of World, by Frank Viola

Corporate Display

The church is called to gather together to display the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ. How? Not by “church services” where a few people perform before a passive audience. But in “church meetings” where every member of the Body functions, ministers, and expresses the Lord Jesus in an open-participatory atmosphere (see 1 Cor. 14:26; Heb. 10:24-25, etc).

Christ dwells in every Christian and can inspire any of us to share something that comes from Him with the church. In the first century, every Christian had both the right and the privilege of speaking to the community.

The open-participatory church meeting was the common gathering of the early church. Its purpose? To edify the entire church and to display, express, and reveal Christ through the members of the Body to principalities and powers in heavenly places (Eph. 3:8-11).

Today, many churches are stuck with the traditional church service where a few people minister to a largely passive audience. But such services do not display Christ through the every-member functioning of His Body.

Equally so, they suppress the headship of Christ, because He is not leading the meeting. Instead, human headship directs what happens, who participates, and when.

Such “services” embody the doctrine of “the priesthood of some believers” rather than the Biblical vision of the priesthood of all believers.

I’ve written elsewhere on this in great detail, particularly in my book Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of Our Practices (Frank Viola and George Barna, Tyndale, 2008). Suffice it to say that every church should have a venue for the free-yet-orderly functioning of the Body where Jesus Christ (and not a human being) is the functional Head of the meeting.

Through such meetings, the Headship of Jesus is made visible and the whole church is built up.

Postmodernism puts a high premium on the participation of the many, rather than the professionalism of the few. For this reason, churches that operates according to New Testament principles in their gatherings are far more appealing than the traditional model where a few are active and the rest are passive.

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Category: Ministry, Pneuma Review, Summer 2008

About the Author: Frank Viola has helped thousands of people around the world to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ and enter into a more vibrant and authentic experience of church. He has written many books on these themes, including God’s Favorite Place on Earth, From Eternity to Here: Rediscovering the Ageless Purpose of God, Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity, and The Day I Met Jesus: The Revealing Diaries of Five Women from the Gospels. He blogs regularly at Twitter

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