Author Topic: 5 Characteristics Of A Christian Congregation  (Read 7678 times)

Dave Likeness

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 5270
    • View Profile
5 Characteristics Of A Christian Congregation
« on: October 07, 2019, 06:43:49 PM »
According to 1 Peter 3:8, there are five elements which should characterize a Christian parish.

1. Harmony......Live in harmony with one another and share common goals
2. Sympathy.....Be responsive to the needs of others, a time to weep and a time to rejoice
3. Love............Treat each other as brothers and sisters in Christ
4. Compassion..Have a tender heart which cares for others
5. Humility.......Put the interests of others  ahead of one's own interests.

Unity of heart and mind is critical for the Christian community. It comes from a common focus
on our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  The result is a vibrant relationship of church members
with one another.  These five elements provide the fellowship (koinonia) that is essential for a
healthy congregation. The desired outcome is not uniformity, but unanimity.

Can this become a reality in a  Christian congregation?   What are the obstacles that the Devil,
the World and our Flesh throw out to prevent a healthy parish?
« Last Edit: October 07, 2019, 06:54:32 PM by Dave Likeness »

Newt Kerney

  • ALPB Forum Member
  • *
  • Posts: 8
    • View Profile
Re: 5 Characteristics Of A Christian Congregation
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2019, 10:19:06 PM »
The biggest obstacle to a healthy parish is people.

Charles Austin

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 14710
    • View Profile
    • Charles is Coloring
Re: 5 Characteristics Of A Christian Congregation
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2019, 10:39:53 PM »
That list seems selfish, inward directed, and limited.
Where is the witness to the world?
Where is the engagement with the world, the approach to the movers and shakers, the dialogue with the “powers”’ of thought, politics, art and science?
Shouldn’t engagement with the world characterize a Christian congregation?
Retired ELCA Pastor. Iowa native. Now in Minneapolis. One must always ponder both the value and the dangers of poking the bear. Aroused and stimulated, the bear usually shows its true self. Or it might leap to an extreme version of itself. You never know with bears.

peter_speckhard

  • ALPB Administrator
  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 19202
    • View Profile
Re: 5 Characteristics Of A Christian Congregation
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2019, 11:41:12 PM »
A loving congregation is a witness to the world and a dangerous, ever-present reproach and alternative to power-oriented, Utopian, this-worldly organizations.

mj4

  • Guest
Re: 5 Characteristics Of A Christian Congregation
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2019, 12:31:26 AM »
That list seems selfish, inward directed, and limited.
Where is the witness to the world?
Where is the engagement with the world, the approach to the movers and shakers, the dialogue with the “powers”’ of thought, politics, art and science?
Shouldn’t engagement with the world characterize a Christian congregation?

Shouldn’t you take up your concerns with St. Peter from whom this list was derived?

Brian Stoffregen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 44255
  • ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν
    • View Profile
Re: 5 Characteristics Of A Christian Congregation
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2019, 03:09:49 AM »
It seems to me that 1 Peter is giving characteristics of Christians, not of congregations. It concludes a section that gives practical advice on how Christians are to live "as immigrants and strangers in the world" (1 Peter 3:11). They are not just characteristics Christians show in church, but fruit that shows itself in the secular world, by which we are known to the world as followers of Jesus.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Timothy Schenks

  • ALPB Forum Regular
  • ***
  • Posts: 115
  • Soli Deo gloria
    • View Profile
Re: 5 Characteristics Of A Christian Congregation
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2019, 03:27:59 AM »
According to 1 Peter 3:8, there are five elements which should characterize a Christian parish.

1. Harmony......Live in harmony with one another and share common goals
2. Sympathy.....Be responsive to the needs of others, a time to weep and a time to rejoice
3. Love............Treat each other as brothers and sisters in Christ
4. Compassion..Have a tender heart which cares for others
5. Humility.......Put the interests of others  ahead of one's own interests.

Unity of heart and mind is critical for the Christian community. It comes from a common focus
on our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  The result is a vibrant relationship of church members
with one another.  These five elements provide the fellowship (koinonia) that is essential for a
healthy congregation. The desired outcome is not uniformity, but unanimity.

Can this become a reality in a  Christian congregation?   What are the obstacles that the Devil,
the World and our Flesh throw out to prevent a healthy parish?

I’m reminded of President Barry’s Five-Fold Vision Statement for the LCMS back in the ‘90s.

Be in the Word.
Remain Faithful.
Care for one another.
Tell the Good News about Jesus.
Live in peace.

Later it was Pres. Harrison’s Witness (Martyria), Mercy (Diakonia), Life Together (Koinonia).
« Last Edit: October 08, 2019, 03:31:45 AM by Timothy Schenks »
LCMS Layman

Charles Austin

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 14710
    • View Profile
    • Charles is Coloring
Re: 5 Characteristics Of A Christian Congregation
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2019, 06:05:43 AM »
The list limits congregations - and the faith itself - to personal comfort, personal care, personal affection and a tiny smudge of charity.
I would hope that “care for others” looks outside the congregation, but one cannot be sure that it does.
It is only a start at describing what a congregation should be.
The writer of I Peter also had no concept of a “church” in the sense today that we are “Church.”
Retired ELCA Pastor. Iowa native. Now in Minneapolis. One must always ponder both the value and the dangers of poking the bear. Aroused and stimulated, the bear usually shows its true self. Or it might leap to an extreme version of itself. You never know with bears.

Dan Fienen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 13258
    • View Profile
Re: 5 Characteristics Of A Christian Congregation
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2019, 06:47:47 AM »
Times change and circumstances change. In Peter's day Christians were a small minority religion most of whom were not citizens even subject to a government that was hardly democratic. Speaking the truth to power ment affirming the faith when on trial for being Christian.


There are dangers also of seeking to impose ones vision of morality as governmental policy. Isn't that what speaking the truth to power amounts to? One danger is turning the church into a political force or party with all the compromises and responsibilities that go along with that. That doesn't mean that as Christian citizens and as an organization of Christian citizens we should not be involved as citizens in shaping the policies of our nation. But we need to be aware of the dangers and responsibilities of political involvement as well as the opportunities.


On another note. What Peter describes in an ideal, achievable with ideal people. We are to strive for the ideal, recognizing it as an goal. The adage that the church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints very must applies.
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

Charles Austin

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 14710
    • View Profile
    • Charles is Coloring
Re: 5 Characteristics Of A Christian Congregation
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2019, 06:55:00 AM »
I know that virtually nothing in scripture envisions the contemporary, institutional, denominational “church” or even the church of the Third or Fourth centuries and beyond.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Iowa native. Now in Minneapolis. One must always ponder both the value and the dangers of poking the bear. Aroused and stimulated, the bear usually shows its true self. Or it might leap to an extreme version of itself. You never know with bears.

Dan Fienen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 13258
    • View Profile
Re: 5 Characteristics Of A Christian Congregation
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2019, 07:07:40 AM »
I know that virtually nothing in scripture envisions the contemporary, institutional, denominational “church” or even the church of the Third or Fourth centuries and beyond.
So, when Paul encouraged Timothy to "preach the word," that has nothing to do with the church today? When Peter talked about how Christians should treat each other that says nothing to us in the church today?  What Paul tells the churches in his epistles has minimal applicability to church today?


Is there no continuities between the church of the NT and church of today?
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

Eileen Smith

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 2140
    • View Profile
Re: 5 Characteristics Of A Christian Congregation
« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2019, 08:24:24 AM »
It is through our care of one another in the community of the church that God is made known.  It is the purist form of evangelism:  This is how all will know that you are my disciples, f you have love for one another."   Of course we are called to serve beyond the church, but our service outside the church, our activism, our advocacy for justice in this world is social ministry.  That is pleasing to God and he blesses those actions.  It is a fruit of our response toe God's love in community.   Through the words of the Gospel of John, Jesus speaks to an exclusive community - yet a community that includes all. 

David Garner

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 7831
    • View Profile
    • For He is Good and Loves Mankind
Re: 5 Characteristics Of A Christian Congregation
« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2019, 08:33:20 AM »
The writer of I Peter also had no concept of a “church” in the sense today that we are “Church.”

Huh?
Orthodox Reader and former Lutheran (LCMS and WELS).

Eileen Smith

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 2140
    • View Profile
Re: 5 Characteristics Of A Christian Congregation
« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2019, 08:35:56 AM »
I know that virtually nothing in scripture envisions the contemporary, institutional, denominational “church” or even the church of the Third or Fourth centuries and beyond.

I doubt that any of the writers of the books of Scripture envisioned how it would be handed down and used in the world and how the world would change.  But we do believe it is the inspired word of God and, as such, God envisioned the future; the words are as relevant to us today and they were when written.  Times change, customs change, but God doesn't change and we know him through his word.   

I'm going to digress to a conversation I had with a pastor last evening.  This ELCA pastor is to the right of the ELCA and remains distressed over much of what was passed in the ELCA Churchwide Assembly.  From there we talked of congregations that have licensed lay people doing Sunday supply.  He opined that it is interesting that the ELCA can find so many routes to circumvent Scripture to get to where it wants to be -- aided and abetted by clergy and yet when it comes to what is the pastor's role there is no brokering.   We hearken back to Scripture and Tradition -- which doesn't seem to apply elsewhere.  Now I'm not suggesting that we devalue in any way the role of pastor or the role of laity - each have their own distinct place in the congregation -- but there is a bit of irony in what stands and what falls.  And much of this sentiment from a pastor.

David Garner

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 7831
    • View Profile
    • For He is Good and Loves Mankind
Re: 5 Characteristics Of A Christian Congregation
« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2019, 08:54:43 AM »
I know that virtually nothing in scripture envisions the contemporary, institutional, denominational “church” or even the church of the Third or Fourth centuries and beyond.

Sorry, I didn't read on to see you had clarified.  Acts 15 certainly describes the church that I inhabit. The rest of the New Testament does as well.  Your mileage may vary on that, but one of the things that made me decide that the Orthodox Church was worth looking into was that I read the Bible and it seemed to describe everything we do, our structure, our approach to doing theology, our formal structure -- all of it.  As Steve Robinson once quoted someone (I forgot who), "the Orthodox Church is all the passages in your Bible you didn't underline."  But for me, it was also a lot of passages I did underline.

Having said that, I don't think the Bible describes a church so far removed from the Lutheran Confessions either.  I always said when I was Lutheran that the Confessions describe a church, not a disparate group of people all claiming to believe in "the Bible" with no reference or framework for what the Bible means.  So perhaps it is the case that others here read the Bible and they also see something similar to what I see.  The Lutheran Confessions, as I read them, describe a continuation of the Western Catholic Church, not a split from it.  Whether the Confessions are right or wrong on that point is, I suppose, open to debate, but I have no need to debate it, because the Confessions are what define Lutherans. Whether the LCMS or ELCA structures are faithful to that is also, I suppose, open to debate, but I know in the LCMS the pastor-as-bishop understanding cleans up a lot of what otherwise might be unclear (because in the beginning, all of what we now call priests or presbyters or pastors were bishops).  I'm not sure how the ELCA glosses things.

In any event, if you look at the Scriptures, and you don't recognize your church, then let me suggest it is your church, not the Scriptures, that are the problem.  Granted, our ecclesiology is different, but I read the Scriptures and I see us.  Perhaps it would do you well to ask why you read them and don't see you.
Orthodox Reader and former Lutheran (LCMS and WELS).