Friday, December 21, 2012

The Relationship Driven Church

It's fascinating to read how the New Testament authors describe church life. Almost everything they write has to do directly with interpersonal relationships. All of the "one another" exhortations are examples of this. If we studied the application passages of Paul's letters we'd see a comprehensive focus upon relationships between brothers and sisters in Christ.

What we don't see too much of is a focus on events. Although we read a few descriptions of church gatherings (for example Acts 20), these are not many. A significant passage such as Hebrews 10:24-25 focuses much more on the relationships involved than on the specifics of the meetings themselves.

In our culture the focus of the church seems to lean toward events. This can be true whether talking about more institutional churches or simpler ones. Although this is done with good intentions, it indicates priorities that are at least somewhat off target.

We'd all do well to ask whether or not we are more focused on relationships or events. I admit that there is almost always overlap between relationships with friends and events we are all involved in. However, they are not the same thing. Which of the two do we spend more time on? Do we put more work into events or relationships?

When we read the New Testament, we see Christians who had some great relationships and some that weren't so great. The writers dealt much with these issues. That was their concern. The church today (that's all of us Christ-followers) benefits when we take a look both at our relationships and at how much effort we place into those relationships.


Arthur Sido said...

It really gets to the whole idea of church as a place you go and a thing you do rather than a life you live. In fact one could easily argue that we spend so much time preparing for the event that we have little time left over for the relationships and that real relationships almost always take place outside of the event where we are able to interact and be ourselves.

Eric said...


Definitions certainly are key. If we think of the event as "church," then we are very mistaken. If we instead focus on people, then we are on the right track. How ironic it is that so many well-intentioned folks put so much effort into events that amount to little. We must hope that they eventually have a paradigm shift in their thinking about what the church actually is.

Aussie John said...


Exactly! You're writing about heart attitude, which comes from a relationship with the Father through the Son, instead of responding to the training of tradition.

Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov found he could get a dog to do almost anything by training it with a whistle.

Tradition is the whistle which institutionalism uses.

Many sincere people, like Pavlov's dog don't know they are being manipulated. Sadly many leaders don't realize they are the agents in this.

If the relationship with Christ is non existent in faithful church goers, changing the mode of meeting will change nothing.

It is not only possible, but certain, that intelligent people, with enormous intellectual acumen regarding the Scriptures,and very caring dispositions, are not what they assume they are.

Heart attitude comes from a changed heart ("a new heart"), the sole work of the Holy Spirit.

I have seen far too many long term church goers, who have come to know the Savior, in a heart and life changing way, to change my thinking on this.

Eric said...


The relationships are truly what matters. The other stuff, depending on what it is, can be beneficial but often just gets in the way.