In the above Church Model illustration, who usually has all the authority? Who are usually the ones mainly involved in making disciples? Who does thebaptizing? Who does the majority of the teaching?
Doesn't this model seem more like King James' version of the "Church?"
In the Ekklesia Model illustration, average believers like you and me use God's word and have His authority to make disciples, baptize them, and everyone teaches each other based on the discernment of God's word. If everyone is actively reading God's word and interpreting it properly, there is no room for heresy or false teachings as everyone is reading directly from the source.
Now let me ask you this, which one of these models is currently being used for the amazing growth of Christianity in Asia and Africa? Which one of these models was used to raise up 128 Million believers in Communist China? Which one of these models more closely resembles Christ's guidance to His early followers? Which one of these models to we see used over and over again in the New Testament?
In Acts 17, Paul and Silas "have turned the world upside" and were "acting against the decrees of Caesar" or the establishment of their day.
Throughout the New Testament, Paul, Barnabas, and Timothy weren't "church builders" - they weren’t telling the people to find some building where they can be separate from everyone else in town. They weren’t telling the people to hire a seminary trained minister who can parse Greek and then install a coffee shop in their new building. They weren’t telling the people to act like good Christians, meet for a few hours on the weekend, have concert style worship, and then go home and get on with their lives until next Sunday. No!
They were building gatherings of believers who heard of all that Christ did, repented of their sins, and chose to follow Him. Many times, this meant a serious life decision that could have dire consequences but they chose to follow the Lord regardless of the earthly costs. They often met in the homes of fellow believers or patrons but not a specific "church building" as this would enormously hinder their interaction and ability to influence the community around them. Often, the entire occupants of homes became believers after hearing the Good News. (Acts 16:15,Acts 16:33-34, Acts 18:8)
Also, very few had any formal training in ministry, they simply shared the story of Christ and let the Holy Spirit move in the people.
Yet every time I bring this question up to someone in vocational ministry, I'm told that "we follow the "church model" because that's what's taught at seminary." Yet every single year, more and more church buildings close their doors, less and less people attend services on Sunday's, and more and more vocational pastors are calling it quits.
Why do we continue to use this ministry model that is not even Biblical? Why are we more concerned with buildings, programs, and "Sunday Entertainment" then growing our flocks spiritually? Why are we relying on our pastors to do all the teaching, baptizing, and discipleship?
You may read this post and think that I'm saying we should do away with institutional churches, salaried pastors, and Sunday services but that is not what I'm saying. I'm challenging Christians to look at the modern Christian Church and compare that with Christ's early gathering of followers. I'm challenging Christians to stop relying on pastors and vocational ministers to do all God's work. I'm challenging pastors and ministry leaders to examine their discipleship models and see how many people are growing spiritually.
We don't need a building. We don't need a Seminary degree. You and I are called upon to make disciples. Our missions field is our neighborhood, our workplace, our friends, our communities. God has called on us to Be The Church.
One of my friends recently started a small group at his home. He started with five people based on the ekklesia model above and then started inviting others, mostly non-believers or people who no longer attended Sunday "church". He now has over 40 weekly participants and has had more people accept Christ and has conducted more baptisms than the average local church does in 2 years. He's rough around the edges, not perfect, and is does not have a seminary degree. Be he has a calling, a missions field, and a passionate love for Christ. He doesn't go to church, he is being the church.
-Esse Quam Videri