Defining Church; Her Message and Mission by Don Atkin

Defining Church

Defining Church“It does not appear that these extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost were common in the Church for more than two or three centuries. We seldom hear of them after that fatal period when the Emperor Constantine called himself a Christian.  From this time they almost totally ceased. 

The Christians had no more of the Spirit of Christ than the other heathens. This was the real cause why the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost were no longer to be found in the Christian Church; because the Christians were turned heathens again, and had only a dead form left.”[1]

” The greatest hindrance to kingdom advancement is the unclear message and compromised testimony of what is generally accepted to be the church today.”

Failure to rightly define the church, her membership, message, and mission, leads to all kinds of confusion.

The loose definitions and minimal requirements that are applied by so many institutions that carry the “Christian” banner have, in some respects, emasculated Christ and prostituted His bride.  What is understood to be the church today is relatively powerless and severely flawed.[2] Consequently, current belief systems push the kingdom of God somewhere out into the future, rather than equipping His disciples to step into their roles in kingdom dominion[3] today.

“Who, looking at today’s popular expression of ‘church,’ would say that it looks like the church as it is revealed in the Word of God? Anyone who would say that does not know much about God’s Revelation of the Church in His Word. But GOD STILL CLEAVES to His FULL thought about the church. He has not accommodated Himself to the situation which currently exists, and accepted it. He STILL holds to ALL that He ever thought and intended. It is His SON’S BODY, or it is an impostor. He will have a Church that really does satisfy Him and His full thought!”[4]

Defining Church

What the church is not:

Buildings that facilitate meetings are not churches.  They are buildings.  Nothing more.  The presence of God does not abide in buildings made with human hands.

The church is not something that we go to.  We do not “go to church.”

What the church is:

 The church is the body of Christ, the called-out ones, whose head is Christ alone.

 The church in any locale is the sum total of those who belong to and follow Jesus, who are born of the Spirit, a new creation.

To subdivide the church in a city or region by denominating on the basis of differing races, cultures, beliefs and/or practices is to perpetuate her powerlessness and inability to pull down the principalities, the rulers of darkness, in that locale.

To denominate with such descriptive terms as house church, simple church, organic church, etc., also plays into the hands of the devil.  His primary strategy is to keep us divided!

The body of Christ is just that—Christ’s body in the earth.  His presence abides in and among His people.

What is not church membership:

Having our names on the rolls of a religious institution or human organization—or even a group email list—does not constitute church membership.

Those who have not experienced spiritual birth by the power of the Holy Spirit, those who do not have His life within them, cannot be one with the Father and His Son, and therefore cannot be members of His body.

What is church membership:

Those who experience rebirth by the Spirit of God, and are a new creation, led by Christ in them—carriers of His life—are added to the church by the Lord,[5] and set in the body by God.[6]

What is the message of the church?

The message of the church is the gospel of Christ and His kingdom—both lived and preached to all nations, beginning where we are (our own Jerusalem).  Jesus began both to do and teach.[7]

What is the mission of the church?

The mission of the church is, first and foremost, to be incarnational—to live the Christ-life by His Spirit.

 The mission of the church is, secondarily, to be missional in lifestyle, preaching both by precept and example, the gospel of the kingdom of God.

 The mission of the church is to disciple authentic converts,[8] equipping them to disciple others also.

 All who are numbered among a new creation are encouraged to embrace kingdom dominion possibilities now.  Embrace Jesus as our Head, and embrace fellow disciples as our brothers.  We are members of one another.  We demonstrate our new creation status by continually walking in fellowship with Christ and with one another.

 We should ask Jesus to enable us to grasp and to live the “one anothers” we find in the New Covenant Scriptures.

By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.[9]

Editors Note: If it is so simple, Why have we made such a mess of it? 

Please comment below:

By Don Atkin

Excerpt from the book Sons of the Kingdom

Defining Church

[1] John Wesley

[2] We acknowledge that there are many earnest saints and sincere ministers within the ranks of the present-day church.  Yet, she flounders in a sea without the moorings of an authentic kingdom vision, a biblical worldview, and a grasp of a new creation.  Instead, much of the church is focusing either upon history or the future, while building bigger barns.  Our desire is to envision without yielding to a critical spirit, to help the cause of Christ rather than yield to the normalcy bias of tradition and status quo.

[3] Dominion is a Scriptural term that was first used in Genesis 1:26.  It is not the author’s intention that his use of the word be mistaken for Dominion Theology, which incorporates a Crusader mindset, and teaches that it is our Christian duty to take over the world, in a political sense, and if necessary, in a military sense, in order to impose Biblical rule.  Context will clarify that this is not our intent.

[4] T. Austin Sparks – 1950

[5] Acts 2:47

[6] 1 Corinthians 12:18

[7] Acts 1:1

[8] True converts to Christ have given Him the reign of their lives and are eager to embrace His equipping ministries.

[9] John 13:35