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

When the church acts according to its true nature, instead of by human tradition, it becomes a powerful witness to the reality of Jesus Christ to postmodern people. It gives them what they long for—the very things that modernism failed to deliver.

In this article, I will describe the shape of the church that will meet the demands of the postmodern world. That shape can be described in four dimensions. While an entire book can be dedicated to unfolding each dimension, in this piece, I simply wish to give a brief description of each one.

The four dimensions are: Communion, Corporate Display, Community Life, and Commission.

Communion

The communion dimension of the church has to do with the church’s inward life and its relationship to the Christ who indwells it.

God in Christ dwells within the church by the Holy Spirit. That’s not simply a doctrine or theology. It’s a reality.

As the Bride of Christ, the church is called to commune with, love, enthrone, and intimately know the heavenly Bridegroom who indwells her.

Churches that excel in the communion dimension give time and attention to spiritual fellowship with the Lord. Worship is a priority. Seeking the Lord, loving Him, communing with Him, and encountering Him are central.

The means of communion are many; including prayer (in all of its forms), meditation, contemplation, worship through song, taking the Lord’s Supper, interacting with the Lord through Scripture, etc. Such means are not only to be practiced by individual members, but by the church corporately and/or in small groups.

Unfortunately, we live in an age where many Christians do not know the Lord very well. This is true even among those who believe in and practice spiritual gifts. The Corinthian church is a testament to the fact that a person can operate in spiritual gifts, and yet have a very shallow walk with the Lord.

Jesus Christ can be known deeply. And the church is called to live by the life of Christ. The communion dimension makes such living a concrete reality. In fact, the communion of the church can be seen as the engine that drives all of the church’s activities. And it is a witness to the postmodern world that God is alive and well, being actively known, encountered, and experienced by His people.

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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 frankviola.com. Twitter www.FrankViola.net

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