What shape should the church be?

What shape should the church be?

That was a question we thought about during the Area Service on Sunday 3rd March, led by Elaine Lindridge, the Newcastle Methodist District Evangelism Enabler, and Stephen Lindridge, the District Chair.

They were very clear - they weren't talking about the church building!

Another way they asked the same question was: 'What are the essential things that make a church?' In small 'buzz' groups we came up with prayer, reading and learning about God's Word in the Bible, worship, following Jesus, making a difference to the communities around us and the people who live there.

When we thought about the reading we'd heard from the Acts of the Apostles, some of us felt that everything essential to being a church is in the first sentence of that reading: "All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers." (Acts, chapter 2, verse 42)

But Elaine and Stephen reminded us that we can't just go backwards and try to re-create the church of 2,000 years ago. We have to be church that is adapted to our own culture, our own time, so as to reach the people of today. We need to be 'Mission shaped'

They showed us a diagram:

To be 'Mission Shaped' we have to:

reach UP in worship to GOD who is HOLY

BELONG - be part OF the whole church which is CATHOLIC (which means 'universal')

become a real COMMUNITY, IN one another, ONE

move OUT, sent in MISSION, to be APOSTOLIC (an 'apostle' is 'one who is sent out'

We have become so used to our churches declining in numbers, finding it hard to get people to do jobs, it's hard for us to believe that in other parts of the world, churches are growing! Elaine and Stephen told us inspiring stories of their visit to Cuba, where the Christian churches are growing by an average of 10% per year. They showed us pictures of people who had been filled with the Holy Spirit, and of people peering in at church windows trying to see what was going on!

What questions does this raise in your mind? What were the special moments for you in the service or the discussion on Sunday 3rd March at Doxford Place? You can add your thoughts by emailing them here.