food for thought

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hello friendlies:

recently I was in a discussion with Dave Bruskus from City on a Hill Chruch. He described to me the pain staking process of knowing what hills (bill anderson pun) to die on, what things to make central, and what foundations to build off of in relation to Church. His responses were quite telling, he said, and I humble paraphrase, ‘we do three things around here 1, we worship God through teaching/song/prayer as a means to focus religious affections on Christ, 2, well call our people to a God-centered view of scripture and a gospel-centered view of life, 3, we reach out to our various geographical and relational communities as missional agents of the kingdom.’ Great stuff.

My question piggybacks on Dave’s 3 points: what would YOU consider to be the essential marks of the church and why? Reciting the confession is more than fine, but make sure you tell us why. However, I’d like to try and move beyond the more traditional categories (not for novelty’s sake) and investigate what other marks we believe are inherently necessary in a healthy church. So, what are the essential, foundational, non-negotiable marks of the true church and WHY?

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4 responses to “food for thought

  1. I think these are the non-negotiables:
    1) Prayer and worship of the triune God. Prayer and worship catches us up into the presence of the Father and we can be guided by his spirit. This is more than just singing, but singing joyfully does encompass it.
    2) Serving others and suffering for others as a result of understanding Christ’s suffering. Once we understand the heart of the Christian message–which for me is understanding Christ’s suffering on the cross and that we must suffer just as he did as a servant–then we must take it out to the world.

    Beyond this, I cannot think of anything else that is SO important as to be non-neotiable.

  2. Thanks for the props Greg. I enjoyed the surprise visit and learned much from you. To look at our vision from a relational perspective instead of task defined, we focus on three key connections; (1) enjoy God with the deepest affections; (2) love each other by sharing life together as followers of Jesus; and (3) humbly serve our neighbors who don’t yet know Jesus . Every thing we say and do is filtered through this grid. It means we say “no, thanks” to many good internal ministry ideas. In my church experience, (3) is always the first to slide off the table.

  3. I like D-Bru’s idea, that is Dave’s new nickname! I think non-negotiables start with 1. Loving God, by constantly preaching the gospel in every aspect of our church, and do this primarily through God’s Word and Sacraments. This will then overflow to #2 of loving each other as brothers and sisters that are messy, jacked up but pressing on by God’s grace and pushing each other in authentic relationships. This will over flow to #3 that we then love our neighbors that have not yet come to trust in the finished work of the cross and have felt the love of Jesus.

    I am not saying that you spend 3 weeks on number 1 then 4 weeks on #2 and then reach #3.

    I think this all happens in an organic mess, where when you are focused on God, you will naturally (by God’s grace of course) do #2 and #3.

    Oh plus our teaching Pastor has to wear a tie, vote republican and we only sing hymns from the 15th century… 🙂

  4. Good stuff guys…I agree wholeheartedly and will add a few extra thoughts.

    As Los and Dave knows, our youth/parents here at DSC hold fast to three foundational principals: word, body and service. These are very similar to the points already elucidated by Dave.

    Here’s what I’ll add (which I’m sure most of you already agree with or assume):

    1, Elders
    2, Co-primacy of the sacraments, that is, teaching on the means of grace, what they are, what they do, and how us needy Christians can make use of them (preaching, Lord’s Supper, Baptism)
    3, Internal/External creativity under the umbrella of structure and order
    4, Holistic Education (heart, mind, soul, strength) for God’s people, new categories, new challenges, in the context of humility
    5, Constant reminders from both pulpit, small group, and bulletin (;)) to take our strong relationships out side the walls of the church and, as all have said, live our faith boldly/lovingly among those who have not heard the gospel.

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