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

Community Life

Properly conceived, the church is a colony from heaven that has descended on earth to display the life of God’s Kingdom.

By its way of life, its values, and its interpersonal relationships, the church lives as a countercultural outpost of the future Kingdom—a Kingdom that will eventually fill the whole earth “as the waters cover the sea.”

God’s ultimate purpose is reconcile the universe under the Lordship of Jesus Christ (Col. 1:20; Eph. 1:10). As the community of the King, the church stands in the earth as the masterpiece of that reconciliation and the pilot project of the reconciled universe. In the church, therefore, the Jewish-Gentile barrier has been demolished as well as all barriers of race, culture, sex, etc. (Gal. 3:28; Eph. 2:16). The church lives and acts as the new humanity on earth that reflects the Community of the Godhead.

Thus when those in the world see a group of Christians from different cultures and races loving one another, caring for one another, meeting one another’s needs, living against the current trends of this world that give allegiance to other gods instead of to the world’s true Lord, Jesus Christ, it is watching the life of the future Kingdom lived out on earth in the present.

It is this “Kingdom community” that turned the Roman Empire on its ear. Here was a people who possessed joy, who loved one another deeply, who made decisions by consensus, who handled their own problems, who married each other, who met one another’s financial needs, and who buried one another.

The church’s allegiance was exclusively given to the new Caesar, Jesus Christ, and she lived by His rule. As a result, the response by her pagan neighbors was, “Behold, how they love one another!”

We live in a day when the Western Church has enshrined rugged individualism and independence. As such, many modern churches are not authentic communities that are embodying the family of God. Instead, they are institutional organizations that operate as a hybrid of General Motors and the Rotary Club.

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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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