Before we begin discussing the elements, can we just be honest and admit that scripture can be (and has been) twisted to defend almost any position out there? Seriously, how many cult leaders and politicians have you seen use scripture to defend their agendas? With that being said, before we continue this discussion I want to set a few ground rules:
-We are leaving out the popular doctrinal arguments. Calvinist vs Arminianist vs Charismatic, etc.
-We are leaving out the tradition & style arguments. Traditional vs Contemporary vs Post-Modern, etc.
-We are leaving out the political arguments. Republican vs Democrat vs Libertarian, etc.
-And we are leaving out the historical arguments. Catholic vs Protestant vs all the other “flavors” that Christianity has to offer.
I would really like to isolate this discussion from the hazy fog of the differences mentioned above. The Church is made up of people like you and me, all flawed human beings. If we focus on our differences, we will never make it to the basics; we will never be able to see the beautiful forest because of the numerous overgrown trees.
Furthermore, rather than pleading my case by listing endless scripture references extracted from their original context, I am going to ask you to use your “spiritual common sense” and draw from your knowledge of scripture as a whole. I might reference a few passages here and there, but I DO NOT want to base these basic elements on just a few verses pulled from the Bible. Rather, my intent to support these basic elements with the whole of scripture, using the entire love story that God’s Word tells us.
My prayer is that we can set our doctrine, traditions & church styles, politics and interpretations of church history on the side and focus on the basics. Perhaps if we had the basic elements of the church nailed down, we could better reconcile the nonessentials to them. So with the ground rules set, let me remind you of my initial analogy from my first post on this subject.
“Water is used in innumerable mixtures, from soft drinks to commercial cleaners. -But when it is purified to its simplest form and broken down to it’s most basic molecular components, we find a simple molecule containing the following: two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. What should we find when the Church is deduced down to Her basic elements, -when She is in Her purest most organic state?”
From my understanding of scripture, God and His Kingdom, when the Church is stripped of the non-essentials and simplified to Her purest state, we should fine three basic elements: relationships, discipleship and outreach -in that order. And I believe the order of those elements are very important.
Next week I will begin to write on the first element, “Relationships.” I believe this to be one of the most “overlooked” and “under-discovered” elements in the American church. -BUT THEY ARE THE FOUNDATION FOR EVERYTHING.