This post is a summary and response to “What are some models of the church?” (p. 187-190) from Church planter: The man, the message, the mission (Patrick, 2010). Patrick noted that this section is informed heavily by Richard Lovelace.
The Teaching Church (Doctrine-driven). This church is committed to teaching (Acts 2:42) theological classes and doctrine. It is serious about the teaching the whole of God’s Word. Strength: the church is taught sound doctrine and members are taught to read and study the Bible for themselves. Weakness: tends to produce Pharisees who have theological knowledge but lack compassion for outsiders. Most of this church’s growth is biological.
The Devotion Church (Worship-driven). The devotion church is committed to corporate worship and prayer, which is often led by the pastor. It has longer services that revel in the display of the Holy Spirit. Strength: experiential worship and racial diversity. Weakness: relationship with God is not grounded in doctrine and experiences are elevated above Scripture.
The Community Church (Community-driven). The community church is committed to fellowship through relationships. The members are encouraged to be the church, and not rely on the clergy to minister. Strength: because of the small groups, members’ needs are easily known and met. Weakness: it is hard for outsiders to break in and it is difficult for pastors to lead because everyone feels empowered to help make decisions.
The Seeker Church (Evangelism-driven). The seeker church is committed to sharing the gospel with unbelievers, both privately and corporately. Technology is important. Pastors love evangelism and it is a part of every ministry. Strength: “very accessible to the unchurched and de-churched” (p. 189) and is willing to change as needed. Weakness: the sermons tend to be “how to” which causes shallow faith, and “hard truths” are usually ignored.
The Social Justice Church (Social-concern-driven). The social justice church is committed to valuing and serving the poor and outcast. It may start community development projects. The pastor may not be as adept at equipping the saints as much as he is at helping others minister. Strength: members are encouraged to love the least, live a simple life, and minister beyond the walls of the church. Weakness: the personal aspect of the gospel is neglected for the corporate.
Conclusion. All the models have strengths, but none of them are all that the church should be as described in Acts 2. The church must be “a teaching, praying, awe-inspired, classless, possession-sharing community on mission” (p. 190).
I appreciate that Patrick is willing to look at the strengths and weaknesses of each model. In my experience, most churches lean toward a certain model and some of them look down on the other models. Patrick is right: None of these models are enough on their own.
From Acts 2, this is what should be happening in the church:
42-47They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Patrick does a great job in the rest of the chapter describing what the church should do. In the rest of the book, Patrick relies heavily on what other have previously said (especially Driscoll and Keller), but that is as it should be. And even though the references are many, the source most referenced is Scripture. And that is how that should be as well. Despite the title of Church Planter, I would encourage any church leader to pick up this book.