‘Whose church is it? How should it then order itself?’ We live in days when ‘God’s / Christ’s’, and, ‘according to the Scriptures’ are sadly not always the answers given, at least in practice. The view of the church as a voluntarist body taking a pragmatic approach, and whose priority is evangelism not worship, is very common and promoted actively.
Here is an antidote. Paul Brown writes from a Grace Baptist perspective. He begins with the universal church: ‘Local churches need to recognise that they are all expressions of the one eternal church of Jesus Christ’ (p.3). The church is given by God as the new humanity. It is God’s family; especially it is Christ’s body — those ‘in Christ’. In it we learn from his Word through God-appointed ministry, and from one another, and serve one another. All believers should be baptised and members of such a church.
So the priority and centre of church life is the worship service. In it, we speak to God and he to us. The church does not just gather together for fellowship and teaching but to worship God in spirit and truth. Central to this are to be preaching — and listening to — God’s Word, and the Lord’s Supper; singing is not a priority!
There is good biblical counsel here on many other areas of church life: leaders, decision-making, unity in diversity, evangelism, handling disagreements. ‘When things go well, watch out for trouble, but trust in the Lord. Do not become proud or complacent’ (p.115). Revelation 3:20 is rightly applied!
A sane, easily read book, which all church leaderships should read and respond to in humility.