Exterior of Westminster Abbey, London, England

Domes of San Carlo al Corso Church and St. Peter's Basilica

Church

Introduction

Here at Immanuel Community, we recognise that the church of Jesus comprises all believers from every nation, tribe and tongue who acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ in word and action, irrespective of church style, culture, denominational affiliation, size of church, etc.  It has no national or global headquarters or organisational structure by which to identify it.

Described in various ways

The Bible describes the church in a number of ways: living stones, aliens and strangers, citizens of heaven, ambassadors of Christ, the army of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit, the Body of Christ, etc.  Paul says in Ephesians 4:15-16:

We will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.  From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Human tradition is the enemy of God

Human tradition will always be the enemy of God.  No institution, no static system or entity, can be the vehicle of God's plan.  The church is not an institution, but the entire body of those who bow before Jesus, hearing what God is saying and actively obeying his word and will.  The Lord describes himself as 'I will be what I will be' and we must be able to say of the church 'It will be what it will be.'  This must be fundamental in our approach to the church.

The church is not a static entity

The church is nothing if it is not a living, moving, developing body through which God can express himself.  It is the means whereby he manifests his purposes, person, glory and rule in the earth.  Since God is not static, neither can the church be static.  If the church is to partner a God who will not be tied down or boxed in, it must itself take on similar characteristics.  People conforming to any externally imposed pattern or method constitute an institution.  The new wine requires flexible wine skins.

The church is the people

We know that the church is not the building, but people.  However, we need to go beyond this realisation and ask 'What kind of people, and people doing what?'  The answer must be that it consists of people who choose to come together (where two or three are gathered) in active relationship and response to God.  John MacLauchlan in an article in Fulness magazine says:

Is such a concept, such a non-institutional approach to church possible?  We respond that it is the only approach possible, if we have an eye for the glory of God.  Any other approach robs him, and forms something that in itself takes away energy and attention for its own self-realisation and perpetuation.     

The church is the church by virtue of its continuous response to the living God and consists of those who are hearing and doing the will of God.  The church cannot be defined by reference to buildings, creeds, structures, celebrity ministers or individual experiences.  More and more organisation is squeezing out any spontaneity.   

Good questions

We should continually ask ourselves if this activity, this meeting, this concept and this way of doing things, is really serving the purposes of God.  Is it a now response to what he is saying, or is it a left-over from what he was saying in the past?  MacLauchlan says:

We pray because it is an active response to God.  We read the Bible because the Lord communicates to us by the principles contained in it.  We break bread together because our table fellowship expresses and confesses the Kingdom of God.  Woe betide us if we do any of these things for form's sake, merely because of an established pattern, out of external obedience.  Such externalism would lead inevitably to a static institution, bereft of the living presence of God.

We need to know that God is involved with our gatherings, otherwise what we build will no longer represent a vital, excited group of people who live with a heart of expectancy, as did the early church.

Looking for the signs of life

Here at Immanuel Community we look for:

Relational unity
Signs and wonders
A lifestyle of discipleship
A culture of honour
Prayer
Worship
Support for Israel
Servant leadership
Preparing the Bride of Christ
Kingdom message and proclamation
The Great Commission

Here at Immanuel Community we have concerns regarding aspects of apostasy (Matthew 24:9-13) and liberalisation taking place in many parts of the church.  For more on this follow the link below:

The Emergent Church

The Bible describes the church in a number of ways: living stones, aliens and strangers, citizens of heaven, ambassadors of Christ, the army of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit, the Body of Christ, etc

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