A church is a local assembly of baptized believers who have voluntarily joined themselves together, and organized themselves under the authority of Christ and the Bible, to carry out the Great Commission.
Christ is Lord over the church - Ephesians 5:23. The New Testament church has Christ as its Only Head. There is no specific organizational headquarters (with Presidents and vice presidents, etc. ) for Christ's Church.
Presbyterian Church USA - Louisville, KY
Wesleyan Church Headquarters - Fishers, Indiana
Southern Baptist Convention Headquarters - Nashville, TN
Roman Catholic church Headquarters - Rome, Italy
Jehovah's Witnesses headquarters - Brooklyn, New York
Mormon Church Headquarters - Salt Lake City, Utah
United Church of Christ - Cleveland Ohio
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) - Indianapolis, Indiana
The NT Church is an Independent Congregation (Acts 13). The church at Antioch did not check with the Church in Jerusalem when it got ready to send out missionaries....it just did it. Why? It was independent.
We believe that the first church began with Christ and his disciples (Matthew 16:16-18; Matthew 18:15-17). More specifically, I believe that the church was conceived in Matthew 10, born on Calvary (out of the riven side - Remember, Eve came from Adam's riven side); given life (or officially coalesced) as the church when Jesus breathed on them in John 20:21, 22. The Church was then empowered on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) to carry the gospel to the ends of the earth. This thought flow is important. If the small body of Apostles formed the nucleus of the early church, then, in essence, everything that Christ gave to the Apostles, he was, in essence giving to the church.
A New Testament Church has a saved/baptized membership. You do not just sign a card.
41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. 42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
They were saved, baptized, added to the church, and then they continued with that church in all of its efforts. Your membership in a church starts with Christ....and your obedience to him. Your membership does not begin with a pastor, a deacon, or a Sunday School teacher.
46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
The NT Church is pastor-led and congregation-approved.
1 Peter 5:1–4
The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd (Remember he was the first Shepherd) shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
It is best if you can have several pastors for one flock. A church is not to be run by committees and groups and individual mandates or desires. The Bible teaches that the leaders God places in a church are responsible, and will give an account to Christ on how they lead (Heb 13:17 ). The Apostles who became the first leaders of the church looked to Jesus and listened to him and followed him...Peter tried to get in the driver's seat one time and Jesus had to help him get back in his proper place (Matthew 16:23).
The primary duty of the church is found in Matthew 28:18-20. Each NT Church is responsible for evangelizing the world, and then discipling the converts. Church size is not a factor. We are to consider Christ's Commission as our Commission. What if each church in existence took the Great Commission seriously? Paul and Barnabas (out of the church at Antioch) understood the Commission.
47 For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.
There are 14-15 Thousand Independent Baptist churches. Each one needs to be attempting to reach the world with the Gospel.
The New Testament Church is the Pillar and Ground of the Truth...I Timothy 3:15 - It is our job to lift the truth up in every generation. Every generation must contend for the truth. The common catchphrase for years has been tolerance. It is leveled against Christians that they are not tolerant. The Biblical word is not "tolerance." It is “Truth." The church has the privilege of providing the truth, in a world of error....the light in a world of darkness. We must find ways to get the truth to people at their point of need. Is there Biblical truth related to marriage? Money? Parenting? Science? Education?
You may say, "I believe all of these things.” Good! Have you applied them? Do you live according to the truth of what you say you believe?
- People ought to be saved. Are you saved?
- People ought to be baptized. Have you been baptized?
- People ought to belong to a local church. Are you a member of a local church?
- I believe that we ought to be carrying out the great commission. Have you given out a tract? witnessed? given to the missionary offering of the church?
- I believe the church ought to be pastor-led. Are you humbly following the directions of your pastor...
You need to be the best church member you can be so that your church can accomplish what Christ put it here for.