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New Forms of Doing Church

tch-logo.pngSession: Things that make (Steve Timmis) go 'Hmmmm…'

The first thing that makes Mr. Timmis go hmmm is the fascination with new ways of 'doing church'.   It doesn't take much to see a number of new books, blogs and conferences speak to the changing nature of the church.  (In fact, it's a subject I've posted on many times.)  Timmis quoted J.C. Hoekendijk, a Dutch theologian.  In Hoekendijk’s view, a keen ecclesiological interest was generally a sign of spiritual decadence.

"Our God is not a temple dweller. In the strict sense of the word he is not even a church god. He advances through time; ever again he lets the new conquer the old. He is not a God of the 'status quo,' but rather the Lord of the future, the King of the history of the world, and, as such, also Head of the church…We must maintain the right order in our thinking and speaking about the church. That order is God-World-Church, not God-Church-World" (J.C. Hoekendijk). 

Much of what Timmis sees in the contemporary fascination with ecclesiology is an obsession with the church itself.  Timmis warned that the emerging church, can in it's restoration attempt end up recovering the form of church rather than the heart.  As they lead the Crowded House (a house church movement) they see the nature of what they are doing as a gospel initiative not an ecclesiological experiment.  Timmis states, "Any non-gospel initiative is an exercise in self-indulgence."

Reflection: How is the nature of your church a gospel initiative?  

4 Comments

  1. Timmis’ comments here remind me what you and others have been saying for some time, that we must start with our theology and let that influence/determine our ecclesiology or has Timmis states we run the risk of simply “recovering the form” of the church but missing the heart – or I would say missing the missionary nature of the church.

    Thanks Drew for posting these thoughts from the conference.

  2. That’s a great insight. There’s no doubt that ecclesiology is constantly discussed these days–often as an end in itself, as if getting the form right will catapult the church into evangelistic relevance. That’s just putting the cart before the horse.

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. I’m interested in hearing more about this conference. Thanks for posting your notes. Do you know if there is any way to get some audio from the meetings ?

  4. I would caution that Steve did mention that he doesn’t necessarily agree with this statement in toto, but that Hoeckendijk was on to something regarding his observation about ecclesiological decadence.

    The Church is God’s mission strategy to the world, so we need to remember that God does indeed indwell the temple and is radically for the Church. I only mention this because guys have picked up on this and began movements based upon a faulty assumption that God is not interested in building His church. Of course He is, otherwise Acts would be useless and so would the pastoral epistles written to the church.

    To have a gopel-initiative, it must be placed in the contex of a gospel community. The world will know we are Christians not by our disconnected, loose affiliations for one another but for our love for one another in a radical gospel-community. Without the church, the preview of the Kingdom and the witness of the truth claims of the gospel are lost.

    I know most everyone that reads this agrees, but I just thought I’d clarify since the anti-church movement is alive and well here in the states and abroad due to our western individualism and disdain for anything organized or corporate.

    We can’t “stick it to the man” regarding the church because “the man” is God Himself!!

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