What Makes a Church?

Since a local church is a body instead of a building, certain necessary distinctives must be present. To have a biblical church, we cannot ignore biblical requirements. 

Biblical Doctrine 

And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it (2 John 1:6).

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine (Titus 2:1).

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths (2 Tim. 4:3-4).

Doctrine Distinctives

  • Without a clear standard for truth, a church will drift into acceptance of unscriptural trends.
  • The Bible should be the unashamed textbook in all areas of a true church.
    • Preaching
    • Worship
    • Discipleship
    • Generations
    • Activities
    • Administration
  • Without a clear and eager submission to the Scriptures, we elevate our opinions over God’s Word.

Biblical Gathering 

And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved (Acts 2:46-47).

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near (Heb. 10:24-25).

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing (1 Thess. 5:11).

Gathering Distinctives

  • A church is not a building to enter or a program to attend but a people with whom to gather.
  • We allow associations of lower importance to rob us of the time we need to gather with the people of God.
    • Laziness
    • Busyness
    • Pettiness
    • Craziness 
  • We are unable to fulfill Christ’s commands in isolation.

Biblical Leadership 

If someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church (1 Tim. 3:5)?

…you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you (Titus 1:5).

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you (Heb. 13:17).

Leadership Distinctives

  • A local church should be under the authority of Jesus, the leadership of the pastors, the service of the deacons, and the ministry of the members.
  • Pastors are accountable to God for how they lead, provide, and protect a congregation (1 Pet. 5:2).
  • Deacons are called to help pastors meet the multifaceted needs of a church’s membership (Acts 6:3).
  • Members are expected to do their part in the work of the ministry (Eph. 4:12).

Biblical Membership 

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers (Acts 2:42).

For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge (1 Cor. 5:12)?

If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector (Matt. 18:17).

Membership Distinctives

  • A church member is someone who identifies with Jesus and a local church.
  • Within membership, a person makes a statement that they no longer belong to the world and that they commit uniquely to a local body.
  • Membership is necessary for the sake of the individual and for the sake of the entire body.