Ekklesia

Thoughts on Preaching

From Preston Sprinkle:

"Scripted sermons should not be read on Sunday. They are to be written on Wednesday, edited on Thursday, read 5 times on Friday, and memorized (or close to it) on Saturday. That way, your Sunday sermon may look like it was written on a napkin—hardly glancing down at your notes—but every word has been deliberately thought through, prayed over, and, in case of flat words, deleted. A half-dead truth can be resurrected by describing it with fresh and vivid language. Rarely does such language come into your brain on stage."
Read the rest here.

'Real' Church

"The [church] gathering remains a set of proceedings led from the front. More informal interactions happen before or after 'real' church. It is striking how evangelicals routinely refer to the formal proceedings in which they are almost entirely passive as church and to their interactions with one another before and after as something other than church."

Mark Strom, Reframing Paul, 221.

Gathered to Build Up

"Why did the ekklesia gather? Most evangelicals, and indeed Christians of nearly all persuasions, traditionally answer that churches meet for worship. Paul's consistent answer was 'to build each other up.' The members met to use their personal endowments from the Spirit for the common good. They prayed, read Scripture, encouraged, sang, taught, and prophesied to one another as the Spirit enabled them. Paul never defined ekklesia in terms of a vertical relationship of worship. The meeting was for one another."

Mark Strom, Reframing Paul, 174.

Aimed at Edification


1 Corinthians 14:26 - "What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up." 

"What is striking in this entire discussion is the absence of any mention of leadership or of anyone who would be responsible for seeing that these guidelines were generally adhered to. The community appears to be left to itself and the Holy Spirit. What is mandatory is that everything aim at edification."

Gordon Fee on 1 Corinthians 14:26 (NICNT, 691)


(For the record, I do believe that churches should appoint overseers and deacons, but Fee's point is striking.)

Re-Evaluating 'Church'

"But teaching our people about the church as a family will not suffice to alter deeply ingrained patterns of behavior. We must also reevaluate the social contexts of church life, the ways in which our ministries are executed. The priority most churches place upon the success of the Sunday service subtly but powerfully communicates the message that this impersonal, once-a-week social environment is quintessentially what 'church' is all about. After all, this is where most church leaders count heads, and this is where we collect money. As a result, the one event preeminently identified with the word 'church' in most congregations finds our people seated side-by-side, facing forward, with little or no interpersonal interaction with person to the right or to the left. A fellow sitting next to me in Sunday church might have lost his job - or his spouse - that very week. Tragically, however, I would never know it."

-J. Hellerman, When the Church was a Family, 177