So I read this in an article in the Briefing this morning about 'real church' by Tony Payne. In it, it said this:

Let's try this thought experiment: can we assume that the churches of the New Testament were real Christian churches, lacking nothing essential? If so, what could we 'lop off' our current practice of church life and still have a genuine Christian assembly (or church)?

Let's mention the obvious ones first: no special religious buildings; no denominations; no territorial bishops, overseers or presbyteries responsible for a group of congregations; no committees; no constitutions; no weekly bulletin sheet; no announcements; and no hymnbooks.

How on earth does this guy come to these conclusions?

No special buildings? I can probably accept that one. No denominations? likewise. No bishops etc. in charge of a group of congregations? Hmmm... the Apostles seemed to kind of have different areas of responsibility (James in Jerusalem, Paul in Antioch and then further abroad). No committees? What exactly is the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15? Pretty much a big committee if you ask me. No announcements? How on earth did they figure that out apart from going to visit one of their service? You would think surely the nature of getting a group of people together would mean you needed to announce what was happening in their communities? Surely you would say announce that Paul was coming to visit or that one of your members had been put in jail for their faith or whatever.

The point of the article is to get us thinking about what is the real essence of church. What is essential and what is not? His main point being we may have added unnecessary cultural baggage to our understanding of church. The first thing that springs to my mind is, why is what the early church did not as bound by culture as we are? Surely they met in certain ways, which are recorded in Scripture because they were meeting in the 1st Century? Perhaps all of what they did could be up for grabs as long as we hold to the core gospel message. I guess I'll sort this out in a Theology of Church subject at Ridley in the coming years!