Friday, July 24, 2009


"And he (Jesus) said to them: "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!" - Mark 7:9

Regardless of the fact that our New Testament never reveals anything close to the form of Church we practice today, the majority of Christians in America embrace traditions of men rather than follow the Biblical model.

James Rutz, in his book "Megashift" outlines four non-Biblical models for the modern Church:

The Harvard Model - Where the professor is the preacher, the lectern is the pulpit, and the students are parishioners. Trouble is, they can sit and take notes for forty years, but they'll never graduate, never get a degree, and never ever become professors themselves.

The Hollywood Model- With its stage, entertainers, polished performances, costumed singers, applauding audiences, etc. All the church needs is popcorn.

The IBM Model - Where a board of directors runs everything from the top down, where permission to do things is denied or granted by the CEO (Pastor) and committees, where finances are the overriding factor behind policies, and where the institution competes with other churches for market share.

The Wal-Mart Model- Where aisles and aisles of tempting merchandise offer something for everybody. Seeker-sensitive mega-churches, with their array of 100+ programs, mirror beautifully the "consumer heaven" ideal of Wal-Mart."

Why is it that Christians will adopt the pattern of anything under the sun when it comes to the Church except the New Testament model?

The modern Church loves the fruit of such models. They hold up the church in Acts as the model for every Christian believer, and yet they refuse to even seriously consider practicing their faith in such a way.

Why is that? Is it because we are afraid of truly embracing the Priesthood of the Believer where every baptized believer is empowered to build up the Body and receive direction from the Holy Spirit?

Is it because we want a system where paid professionals can take responsibility off of our shoulders?

Is it because we don't want to seem "weird" to the rest of the world?

I'm sure there are a variety of reasons why we refuse to embrace the New Testament model, but the bottom line is, we love and trust our traditions more than we love and trust the Word of God.

We take the words of the Apostle Paul more seriously when it comes to head coverings and women leadership than we do when it comes to instructions on gathering to worship and glorify God in the assembly. Even though the number of chapters regarding the practice of our faith and God's design for His Church vastly outnumbers the handful of verses regarding the other debated topics, we cannot seem to take these verses seriously.

When we first left to start our house church there were those who told us, with a straight face, that what we were doing wasn't Biblical. Others claim that the New Testament is silent regarding how the Church should gather and worship. Neither claim could be more laughably untrue.

There are 58 "one anothers" in the New Testamnent. These verses instruct the Body to love, teach, train, equip, correct, admonish, restore, encouarge and share with one another. The New Testament was written to the Body. It wasn't written to Pastors or Leaders, but to encourage and strengthen the Body and to remind the Body "to build one another up in love".

We are the Church. We are the Temple of the Holy Spirit.

If there's any model we should be following it should come from the New Testament, not the corporate structures and systems of this World.

"Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that." - Jesus (Mark 7:13)



Mike said...

Great stuff again Keith. I know examples of each of these models and unfortunately, belonged to some of them.

Perhaps, the "church" has gone underground (ie; the title of this blogspot)and we are in the midst of a third reformation.



Billy said...

I was sharing this article with my wife and when we were discussing the "Harvard Model," she said, "So would that mean that the tithe everyone is encouraged to give would actually be your tution fee."

I appreciate all your thoughts on the Church, it's the "stuff" you don't hear in church.


Anonymous said...


Some thoughts on this post:

Lately I've been reading some of the anti-emergent blogs on the web. What they always harp on is all the practices that are unbiblical that they see in the emergent church such as lectio divina, meditation, prayer labrinths and so on. They say they are unbiblical because those practices aren't exactly spelled out or prescribed in the Bible. So in other words if it is not spelled on in the Bible then it is unbiblical. But in my opinion it has to be contrary to the teachings of the Bible to be unbiblical. The latter gives a lot more freedom than the former. What definition are you using for unbiblical in this post?

mt. vernon oh

Keith Giles said...


I'd agree w/ you that for something to be "unbiblical" it must be something that is contrary to what the Bible teaches.

Does the Bible teach that the Church is a Business? No, it does not. It teaches something different, namely that the Church is a family, a Body, a community, an organism and a Bride.

These teachings/models above are "unbiblical" because they contradict the Biblical model of Church as a Family and Community and Organism.

Philemon said...

I'm in South Africa and I belong to one of this above mentioned models.....God bless you

from Malesela
South Africa

Keith Giles said...

Philemon: Which model would that be? And are you ready to try a Biblical model of ecclesia rather than a man-made business model?