Local Church

When Is a Church Not a Church?

I want to talk about what “the church” is. This will be a high-level discussion, not a defense of a particular kind of church (Baptists v. Methodists, etc.). I want to talk about this because I fear we forget just how important it is to get this right. As sectarian battles light up social media and the news (with no end in sight), this deceptively simple issue deserves some consideration. 

There are different ways we use the word “church:”

  1. The building where the congregation meets. This is common language, and I get it, but it’s wrong.
  2. In a wholistic sense, considering the entire congregation of the faithful throughout the world. We’ll begin with this.
  3. In an institutional sense—a local place that exists somewhere. This is the sense which we’ll spend most of our time pondering.1

Wholistic Sense—Church as Brotherhood of Christ-followers

Three strikingly different theologians offer up similar definitions for “the church” in a wholistic sense.

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Whom Has Christ Authorized to Baptize? Can Parents Baptize a Child at Home?

"Are parents authorized by Jesus Christ to baptize their children at home? Can a Bible study privately partake of the Lord’s Supper? From our special online event Made in the Image of God, Burk Parsons and Stephen Nichols consider who may legitimately administer the sacraments." - Ligonier

1855 reads

“We should be like the Apostle Paul, who... consistently pointed out God’s grace even in deeply flawed local churches.”

"Of course, our churches do need to grow. They do need to become holier and healthier. Paul knew this. Repentance mattered to him. Just ask the Corinthians. But what first grabbed Paul’s attention when he thought about that rowdy, discriminatory congregation in Corinth? God’s grace (1 Cor. 1:4–9)." - 9 Marks

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An Open Letter to Someone with Whom Church Discipline Did Not Result in Restoration

This post is a supplement to the “church discipline process” document/training posted earlier. The goal of this series is to equip churches to conduct church discipline with restorative excellence. Reposted, with permission, from bradhambrick.com.


I would imagine it is very difficult to receive a letter from your church or a Christian friend at this time. Thank you for your willingness to read what I have to say.

Reading this letter means you are at the end of a long journey that resulted in a conclusion that no one is happy with. The people on this journey were once friends, and even considered one another brothers and sisters in Christ. An unsatisfying conclusion to this kind of journey stings to put it lightly.

If I could give you one piece of advice at this juncture, it would be “reflect don’t react.” It would be easy to view what your church family did as closed-minded rejection on the basis of a sense of moral superiority. But for the stewardship of your own emotional and spiritual well-being, I would ask you to reflect on the following questions:

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