The study of “church” is called ecclesiology. It’s a word that describes a gathering of people “called out” by God to be “church.” The focus can be on the local church, the historical church, or the collective church: churches that make up a certain group or family of congregations.

The church is described by many metaphors used in the New Testament. They include the sheep and the Shepherd, the household of God, the vine and the branches, a living temple of living stones, the priesthood of all believers, and several others. All of these descriptions are reflective of a living organism, with Jesus as the one in charge—the Head of His body, the body of Christ.

At Church Doctor Ministries, we formed our name and approach in a way that respects the church as a very complex, complicated, living organism. We study ecclesiology: the nature, function, and role of the church. We also study ecclesiological pathology: Churches can get sick, weak, and even die. And some do!

In the New Testament letter to the Hebrews, the first couple of chapters focus on the Headship of Jesus. The writer reclarifies that Jesus is not another angel, but God, as part of the Trinity, which includes the Creator as well as the Holy Spirit.

However, in that context, the writer nails down a critical challenge found among Christians and churches. It is called “drift.” This subtle and deadly issue can gut the power of the Christian movement, one church at a time. Drift can occur concerning the nature of God, the role of Jesus, and, in the area of ecclesiology: the nature, role, and purpose of the church.

In Hebrews 2:1-4, the writer says, “It’s crucial that we keep a firm grip on what we’ve heard so that we don’t drift off” (emphasis mine).

Drift can occur in our clarity about the Savior. When it does, it’s usually quickly corrected. However, when it comes to the nature, function, and priorities of the church, drift is often overlooked.

These are common examples: (1) Churches operate as an organization, using forms of governance that creep in from the world: bylaws, votes, boards, committees. (2) Churches ask for volunteers—a practice totally foreign to Scripture. Jesus modeled discipling. (3) People are nominated and elected to serve. The Holy Spirit gives each person spiritual gifts that determine their unique ministries. (4) Church staff members end up doing most of the ministry. The Bible clearly says (Ephesians 4) that the leader’s role is to equip God’s people to do the work of ministry. (5) Most churches focus on a “you all come” strategy—invite people to worship. Jesus commanded His followers to “Go, make disciples” (emphasis mine). (6) Most churches act and feel like an organization. God sees the local church as a family (Hebrews 2:10-13).

The antidote to drift is to get back to basics. Help your church become what God intended.

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