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What is a Church?

 

"We are [a local church is] a community of true believers in Jesus Christ, established by God as His holy dwelling place, knit together in love by the Holy Spirit, who gather together regularly in order to make the glory of God known through the Gospel, using every biblical means possible [preaching, the Lord’s Supper, baptism, public reading of Scripture, studying the Bible together, prayer, fellowship, singing, worship, eating together, serving, caring for each other], under recognized spiritual leadership [qualified elders and pastors], who care for and affirm each other’s salvation, and then are trained and sent into the world to preach and practice the Gospel and multiply churches everywhere." 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; Hebrews 10:24-25; Exodus 33; 1 Timothy 3; Titus 1; Matthew 28:19-20; 1 Peter 1:10."

The following is a teaching curriculum divided into 8 devotional sessions that we have used in planting churches in India and teaching the Christians at Taft Avenue what it means to be a church. Download the whole document here.

 

Devotion Session #1 

The church composed of true Christians who have been converted and placed into the body of Christ.

 

Devotion Session #2 

The church knows and listens to the voice of God as He makes Himself and His Gospel visible/known in the Bible by preaching, devotions, teaching (John 10:3-5, 16, 27; 15:7, 15)

 

Devotion Session #3 

The church is under the spiritual authority of the pastors/elders.

 

Devotion Session #4 (A and B) 

The church, by its very definition, is missional. The church proclaims the truths of the Gospel and manifests that truth through changed lives.

Living things reproduce, Christians produce Christians and churches produce churches. The church is the most dynamic and foundational organization on earth. The church, by calling and necessity, becomes a church-planting church. By nature, God is the sending one who initiates the redemption of His whole creation. Jesus consistently spoke of Himself as being sent in John’s gospel and subsequently commissioned His disciples for this same purpose (John 17:3, 8, 18, 21, 23, 25). As the sent people of God, the church is the instrument of His mission (John 20:21).

A. Jesus is the only way; there is no other way. The church is commanded to proclaim this truth. Church planting is urgent! More churches mean more evangelism.

B. Everyone in the church must live by the Gospel and proclaim the Gospel always and everywhere, especially to the distressed and downtrodden – those we picture as least likely to make good Christians.

 

Devotion Session #5 (C and D) 

C. Churches must pray about planting in order to plant—God acts when we pray! Planting is God's work and must be done in reliance upon Him.

 D. Churches must plan to plant.