The ecclesia (Church) is a participatory community of the followers of Jesus Christ, built upon the proclamation of Jesus Christ and his Kingdom, nurtured under leadership of those called by God, situated in a particular time and place, demonstrating the power of God, for the glory of God and the salvation of many.
built upon the proclamation of the Jesus Christ and his Kingdom
The gospel (from the Greek, “_evangelion_” meaning “good news”) is the message that God gave His one and only Son to save us from the consequences of sin (John 3:16; Romans 6:23), to restore us to a right relationship with God (2 Corinthians 5:20) and to usher in the Kingdom of God (Luke 4:16-21). Tim Keller has said, “All human problems are ultimately symptoms and our separation from God is the cause.”
The proclamation of this gospel of Jesus Christ and his Kingdom is the means by which men and women respond to the call of God to turn to Him (Romans 10:14-15). The Church is built upon the proclamation of this good news. This is the message that has changed everything. The implications of it are far reaching. The exploration and proclamation of those implications in the real world is the wonderful task of the Church during this present age.
nurtured under the leadership of those called by God
We have already said that the Church is an organised organism. It is the gathering of those “called out of darkness and into His glorious light”, but it is not amorphous and leaderless. Certain principles of authority and leadership are found throughout the scriptures, to name a few:
- Though we are all equal in the eyes of God, in His wisdom, God calls men and women to serve the community of faith by standing in a position of influence through which they connect, equip and mobilise her in order to collectively pursue the Holy Spirit’s ever unfolding direction. (Ephesians 4:1-16)
- Leadership in the Kingdom of God is always a position of service. The motivation of the leader is not selfish ambition but rather love for both Christ and his people. (Galatians 4:19, Colossians 1:25, Matthew 20:25-28, Hebrews 13:17)
- Mutual trust and honour between the ecclesia’s leaders and followers is essential. Each member is to honour the Lord’s call upon the other’s life and to encourage them in the pursuit of it. (Romans 12:10, 1 Corinthians 12:26, Philippians 2:25-30, 1 Timothy 5:17)
situated in a particular time and place
“And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us” (Ac 17:26–27).
Every community of faith is located within a particular time and place. At first, this might seem painfully obvious. However, that community which is truly aware of this fact will be able to perceive and articulate the uniqueness of their location in time and place and seek to live and witness within it in the most effective ways. Though God and the gospel are unchanging, the way in which the ecclesia fleshes out her obedience to God is inevitably and necessarily shaped by the time and place in which she lives.