Three Units of Corporate Christian Life
Apostolic Foundations and Apostolic Patterns - Part 1
We live in a world divided and confused with “ministries,” “denominations,” “non-denominations,” and “free,” “universal,” lone-ranger Christians. The “church world” is full of people who live unaccountable to men, who by choice and commitment regard themselves as their own best mentor (claiming it is the “Holy Spirit”—“God and me”), while truly it is only their pride, disobedient independence, and their distorted and inadequate personal impressions, knowledge, emotions, prejudices, fears, and experiences that are “guiding” them—not the Holy Spirit at all.
One of Father’s safeguards to this “trap of the devil” that is so popular in this day above all days—is relationship with Brothers and Sisters. Beyond merely a “safeguard,” to be totally intertwined with Brothers and Sisters in work and daily life is a Command (1Cor.12, Rev.3, Heb.3:12-14, Acts 2:42-47). “If you LOVE Me…you’ll obey Me!” Another perspective of this is found in Hebrews 13:17. Here we find that God says, by His Spirit, that accountability should be a given for every Christian. We’re NOT our own, we were bought for a Price, and it’s not our call! It’s God’s call. It’s HIS choice how we relate to one another—and “I have no need of you” and “I can do it myself” and “I only need JESUS”…are the words of the “carnal” and “babies” in the Faith and Walk of Jesus (1Cor.2-3, 12).
The Book of Hebrews was written to men who were scattered abroad. It was not written to a specific local Church (as were many of Paul’s letters). The Book of Hebrews was written to Christians all over saying, “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account” (Heb.13:17). This was a general statement to Christians. The amazing assumption was made by the Holy Spirit that everybody would know who it was that was over him in the Lord—who it was that he should “obey.” Wow. Oh, surely this can be abused. But how much worse that YOU should abuse it by refusing the Word of God?! He didn’t say, “only those who are associated and affiliated with the local Church need to obey those over them.” He wrote to Christians scattered all over, and his assumption was automatically, “obey those who have the rule over you, those who watch for your souls, those who must give an account for you.”
If we don’t know who it is that gives an account for us, and if we don’t know who it is we yield to, then we are in violation of God’s intention for every Christian, which the Hebrews writer (the Spirit of Christ) took for granted! If there is no one who we yield to or even consider to be one who is “over us in the Lord,” and who walks with us daily, then we are out of line with God’s Plan. Do we just make our own way, do what we want to do, and act independently without yielding or submitting to ones “over us in the Lord”? Do we “take it or leave it” based on what we agree with? Such behavior is common when a person desires to be his own boss and do what he thinks is right in his own eyes. When that happens, the norm for a Christian as seen in Hebrews 13:17 is violated. The “lone ranger” type of Christian does not exist in the New Testament; it’s an unfortunate growth-stunting anomaly, if the Words of God in the Bible are the final say on the matter.
This “lone ranger” thing, which describes so many today who consider themselves the MOST Spiritual people they know, doesn’t exist in the Word of God, except in the rarest of cases. God does not ordain such pseudo-heroic spirituality. “Me and Jesus” Christianity is not what GOD said was His desire, or His way. In fact, He even said that the cost of living this way would result in “hardness” and “deception” and perpetual “childhood” in our Faith. Who would want that?! We’ll talk later about some of the diverse circumstances that Father may place us in. For now, though, let’s get it straight that an intentional lifestyle of “independence” and “white horse” Christianity, where “I can do it myself” is the motto, and one lives their own life as they please and shows up at a meeting or three during the week and calls that “fellowship” and “church” —this is in flat disobedience to God. God Himself says such a person is “hardened” and “deceived.” Deceived by sins they cannot see, and hardened to not even care, to the point of defensiveness. “Some love the light…” and some do not, “because their deeds are evil.”
In spite of the division and confusion with “ministries” and “denominations” and the like, there are really only three basic units of Christian life in the Bible—the local Church, apostolic companies of men, and the universal Church. Of these three basic units of Life in the Kingdom of the Beloved Son, only the first two are His normal pattern—the local Church and apostolic companies of men (which are closely tied to the local Church). The universal Church is an exception to God’s norm and is often times grossly abused. So, let’s begin with the local Church, or “Lampstand”….
The Local Church
As seen from Jesus’ viewpoint in Revelation chapters 1 and 2, there were seven separate lampstands, seven churches, in Asia. Not one general “universal” church. An identifiable local Church is that which holds up the Son and allows His light to shine into all the world, as well as being the place where Christ circulates (Rev.1:13, 2:1). It involves real people, in real places. Although it would be impossible to describe every detail of what God’s Church looks like, the following are some crucial elements that characterize the local assembly.
A Kingdom, not a Democracy
The Church is not, and cannot be, individuals “doing their own things,” “blooming where they are planted,” and getting together with others when they feel it is most beneficial. When a situation is marked by “every man doing what’s right in his own eyes,” the people involved are not positioned under the full measure of blessing, provision, and protection by King Jesus.
There’s a blessing that comes from being under the King, the Anointed One of God. When men have no king, they also have none of the benefits and protection of the Kingdom. The end of Judges says that because they had no king, every man did what was right in his own eyes. And, beyond that, when a man says, “I have a King, His name is Jesus, but I don’t need the Kingdom,” he is, according to the Bible, missing the King. Such a man has attempted to truncate the Head from the Body. Since that’s not possible, he has separated himself not only from the Body, but from the Head as well. That’s an important point for a lot of today’s religious world.
Leadership from On High
When God’s timing is clear and circumstances dictate, it may be Father’s Intention that there be Elders and Deacons in a local Assembly. Biblically, certain situations motivated the Placement of Elders in the local Church. For example, in Jerusalem, after perhaps a dozen years without Elders (there were still none as late as Acts 6, seven to ten years after Pentecost, with literally thousands in the local Assembly there), it became apparent in the Spirit that perhaps it was time for Elders. While there are no details of the exact time and reasons for the change of ways there, we do know there are Elders in the one local Church in Jerusalem by Acts 15, which was several years later. Perhaps Overseers became necessary because of the scattered work of the apostles (Galatians 1) who lived in Jerusalem from early on. We also see the need for Overseers/pastors/shepherds/elders in the new Assemblies where Paul laid the Foundation. These were places with a void of daily Apostolic input (since Paul only stayed a matter of months in these Asian and European cities, as opposed to the 25 years Peter and others with the apostolic gift stayed in Jerusalem). 1Timothy 2 and Titus 1 describe the type of man of God required for such a task.
The “eldership” is always plural in every example in the New Testament. There is never an indication of there being just one person who is “over” a local assembly, though this Laodicean and Nicolaitan (“conquer the people”) practice is certainly commonplace, if not normative, in today’s religious world. Eldership is always plural in the New Testament. The “senior pastor” idea, with a “board” of elders and deacons as “advisors,” is completely foreign to the Scriptures. The other alternative that some opt for (in rejection of the “senior pastor” idea) is a “hired preacher”—again totally foreign to the Scriptures.
It is essential that we solve this leadership dilemma, rather than simply discover and point out (as anyone can do) the problems and discrepancies. That is why this next thought is incredibly significant. The Biblical alternative to the world’s way of doing “leadership” (boards, hierarchies, hired leaders) can only be understood in an environment that is “daily in public and from house to house,” and where all the members are truly “joined and knit together by every supporting ligament.” If you try to grasp what leadership in God’s Kingdom is all about in any other environment, it will never make sense. In a “church” that centers around “Sunday services,” probably the only leadership structures that will work are the non-Biblical worldly models. But in an environment that is according to the Biblical pattern, leadership from heaven can be understood. It makes sense that to discover God’s real answer about the Biblical leadership pattern, you have to walk in the same Life that they walked in. It doesn’t make sense any other way.
You can see why leadership is a dilemma in the religious world. And you can see how easily people form some sort of “church government” that strays from the Biblical standard. Inevitably, it cannot be leadership according to God’s pattern because the religious system itself is not God’s way, either. I know that sounds dramatic, but let’s be honest!
So, because of this dilemma, one of two routes is usually chosen in forming church hierarchy. In one scenario, a specific man is chosen as leader because he’s a good speaker, or he has a magnetic personality or a Ph.D. Or maybe he was the founder so people feel they owe him respect. To be honest, this top man is practically exalted and everyone else comes under him. At that point, he then becomes the cork on the bottle for them. They’ll never become more than he is because Jesus said “a student is not above his teacher.”
In the second scenario, a “preacher” is hired and a plural eldership is formed. But while the man hired as “preacher” is seemingly the man who is most full of the Holy Spirit, who seemingly knows the Word of God best and knows the God of the Word best, he becomes only a hireling and central attraction for the visitors.
Both of these approaches stand in direct opposition to the Word of God. In one, a single man is exalted and holds all the power, with everyone else as his advisors. In the other, a man is hired and made a slave or hireling of the system with a plural eldership who pull the strings. They may hire a man who seems to be most “full of the Holy Spirit,” but then turn around and fire him when they get tired of him. In the religious world today, these are the two major alternatives to this thing we call “church government.”
By contrast, only the ekklesia, the community of God, can accomplish the task of raising up men who will turn the world right side-up. A “habitat” of the local Church—where men and women are “counting none of their possessions as their own” and “admonishing one another daily so that none are hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” is the only place where men “full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom” are raised up (apart from a Sovereign act of Jehovah, which is the exception). The props of elaborate church hierarchy, programs, seminaries, and Bible colleges will never do it. The last 1900 years is proof of that! And that along with the Scriptures is testimony enough that Jesus meant for His Purposes to be fulfilled exclusively in the Church! It can only be too obvious that men’s methods have not yielded the fruit that the Church of the first century yielded.
Bad Fruit Equals Bad Tree
Anybody who’s honest will tell you that the best we’ve been able to do is try to find programs that get people fired up enough, police people well enough, apply enough pressure, or instruct their minds well enough, that they can carry out a gimmick to accomplish some task. If the program is good enough, they can network it like Amway and it can seem like they are doing a really “big” work. But the problem is that they didn’t do any of that stuff in the first century. None of it. It’s all foreign to the New Testament. They didn’t rely on any man-made props to accomplish God’s Work, yet they did a far better job than we’ve done! How can this be? How do you achieve such staggering results without a program? A tree is known by its fruit, and no good tree can produce bad fruit. It should be obvious that 1900 years of “church growth” has failed to produce the fruit of the first century Church. Therefore, the tree itself is wrong. You know a tree by its fruit. You can hang apples on an oak tree all day long, but that won’t make it an apple tree. A tree is not a program or an organization, but an organic life that yields the fruit automatically.
Jesus never taught motivational techniques to his disciples so they could pass “methodologies” down through the ages. Jesus Himself and Christians of the first century didn’t operate that way to accomplish “spiritual goals.” Having wonderful externals of hype and numbers doesn’t make the organization a living organism full of God’s Glory. The externals may seem awesome to us, but what kind of fruit have they borne? The church has been riddled with division and splits and hypocrisy and sin of every conceivable kind. Right? Jesus himself prayed that there would be ONE UNIFIED BODY. Won’t His prayer be answered? Have history and our lives today been heading toward unity? If the fruit is bad, the whole tree is bad. The foundation of our entire approach to “church” has missed the mark. This is a scary thought given the fact that Jesus said it is the Church that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against.”
The Church is “the pillar and foundation of Truth,” and Christ is “the Savior (Deliverer) of the Church.” “His intent was that now (not just someday ‘when we all get to Heaven’), through the Church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms…” (Eph.3:10). No wonder Paul could exclaim, “to Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end” (Eph.3:21).
Idols—The REAL Obstacle
Many today are striving to understand and define Biblical “church government.” However, this dilemma will only be solved in the context of Biblical Church substance and daily life together as a people. The answers will never be found in the unBiblical substitute that revolves around Sunday morning “worship services,” hierarchies of leadership, committees, and a clergy/laity mentality. From such a context, you will study and administrate your way into many, many trials and crises that are unnecessary and harmful to the cause of Christ.
The problem is not that we just haven’t found the right method yet. The real obstacle to penetrating and discovering God’s heart concerning HIS government in the Church is our own idolatry. Our idols of lifestyle, family, and career seem so normal and good to us. Yet, it is these idols that relegate the Kingdom of God to mere meetings, speeches, programs, and “special days” (Sundays, Wednesday nights, “bring your neighbor days,” holidays). These idols—not a lack of Biblical knowledge about church government—are the true obstacles.
What is it that keeps you from “laying down your life for your brothers” and learning to “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none are hardened and deceived by sin”? Is it a lack of knowledge about church government? Or is it your “right” to live in a nice house, pursue an upwardly mobile career, and spend the evenings with your “family”?
The god of this age has blinded the minds of those who are in unbelief. Those blinded ones have believed the lie that satan could bless them and make them happy through idols which feed the flesh. Without even thinking, people are deceived into craving these various idols, feeding the animal of the flesh, all the while thinking that somehow these idols will bring success and satisfaction. But that’s a lie! It’s a lie of the adversary, the enemy, the “murderer,” as Jesus called him. It’s a lie that satan can bless you more than your Father in Heaven can. That’s the enemy. The obstacle to discovering the leadership of God is the basic wickedness of idolatry, not the lack of knowledge of church government. And, unless you start there, the rest of this will be meaningless.
Elders Appointed by God
Every man in leadership must be observably drunk on the Holy Spirit, fully controlled by the government of God, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. Elders and deacons are primarily local (as opposed to traveling) men. There will be exceptions, as some men are both pastoral and apostolic, such as Peter, who called himself an apostle and a “fellow elder” (1Pet 5:1). While God clearly desires elders to be over His flock, simply following the pattern of “having elders” in every church has no merit in itself.
Every religious group has its own answer to the problem. Lutherans have a synod; the Presbyterians have a presbytery; the Episcopalians have episkopos. Every denomination thinks that by instituting some “form” of church government, they can bring God down into their midst. It’s like the genie in the bottle trick—thinking that if we rub the bottle just right, God will automatically have to bless us. If you follow the right rules and regulations of “government,” then God will have to bless it. And somehow, doing it right makes you right and everybody else wrong.
Again, having elders has no merit in itself, even though it is the Biblical pattern. Everything in the Church must be done in God’s way and according to God’s timing. Anyone who would appoint men who are not described from God’s vantage point as being “full of the Holy Spirit and Wisdom” (Acts 20:28, 6:3-7) is in big trouble. “The Holy Spirit has made you overseers,” according to Paul. It was not men in their intellect and ambition that made them overseers. Overseers appointed on any other basis than “full of the Holy Spirit and Wisdom” are in big trouble.
If you want to be technical, the Biblical pattern is that never (not even once in 30 recorded years of the Church of Jesus) did a Church have elders right after it was born. It was always a few years later that elders were appointed. By the strictest principles of Biblical interpretation, then, it would be “unBiblical” to have elders until quite some time after the Church is born. Amazing, isn’t it? It never happened in New Testament times.
“All right,” you say, “we’ll just make a rule that every Church has to wait a few years before they have elders.” No, No, No! That’s not the point. While some just ignore the Word of God, most of the religious world today uses a “paint by numbers” approach to the Bible. “From the beginning it was not so.” Christians in the first century never had clear-cut doctrines to go by in each new situation that came up. They weren’t imitating anyone. The account in Acts 15 portrays clearly that twenty years after Pentecost they were still wrestling to find out what the right doctrines were. Men who were with Jesus for 3 years still couldn’t put their fingers on exactly what all the “perfect doctrines” were. They had to talk about it quite a while. It wasn’t a given. It wasn’t some creed that they handed over instantly. There was a wrestling match over God’s will, and it will always be that way. It’s not that clear-cut (as exemplified by 3,000 denominations who all think they are right. Nobody thinks they are wrong). Unlike most of us, those disciples couldn’t turn to “pat” answers for their problems. Instead, they were forced to turn to a Living God who always has a current thought about current situations.
The time has come for the 3,000 or so denominations to stop quarrelling about what they think is “sound doctrine.” Rather, let us turn to the God they turned to and know the God that they knew—living our lives with the priorities, vision, obedience, and self-sacrifice of those normal men and women of the first century! Without that, doctrines, while essential, will leave us empty and desolate, “having a form of godliness, yet denying its power.”
Make no mistake about it; the recognition and appointment of “elders in every city” is still (though abused by some) on the heart of God to “put things in order” (Titus 1:5-11). There was a certain dynamic present in each of the situations where Father inspired Paul to appoint elders or to instruct regarding elders and deacons. Likewise, it was a radically different dynamic in a dozen years in Jerusalem where God did not call for “elders.” These are the “gems” of Spirit-Life found within the pillar and foundation of Truth-the ekklesia. It’s not a word game, but dynamic Life. Having elders just for the sake of having elders has failed to produce the fruit of the first century Church.
Apostolic Companies of Men
The second unit of corporate life that we read about in the Bible is what we’ll call apostolic companies of men. These “ascension gifts” (Ephesians 4) are gifts poured out on men by God. They are virtually always refined in character and raised up in the local Church. Then they are sent out (or taken out by apostolic men) for extra-local work.
“And Sopater of Berea accompanied him to Asia—also Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians, and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia” (Acts 20:4).
When Paul traveled, he pulled men in with him—two from here, three from there, one from there. Paul saw that these men had been given Gifts from on high for the building up of the Church, and he drew them off with him as he went from place to place. That’s the second unit of life that we see and which overlaps, ebbs, and flows with the local Church. We’ll look at this one more closely later.
The Universal Church
The third unit of corporate life is the universal Church. Please be aware of the fact that there is both a valid and an invalid sense in which this term can be used. Somehow God may set aside times when it is right for individuals or groups of people to inhabit places in the name of Christ, but where an expression of the local Church does not necessarily exist. The following are a few examples of what might be considered “valid” expressions of the universal Church. However, keep in mind that these are still exceptions to the norm.
Consider the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:39). For reasons that only God knows, He sometimes calls a man back to Ethiopia alone, with no Church, no fellowship, and no accountability. Nevertheless, history tells us that at least two of the original twelve apostles eventually made their way down there and a great Church flourished.
Then there’s Apollos. He was a bit of a loner, and Paul seemed to have considerable tension with him. Yet while Paul challenged (even a bit sarcastically) Apollos’ service to the saints at times, Paul would not judge Apollos’ heart. In 1Cor.3:4-4:6, Paul included Apollos as he spoke of his own heart. He said, “I apply these things to myself and Apollos for your sake.” He said he didn’t even know his own heart, so let every man’s motives be judged by God on that last day. We don’t even know our own hearts and there are secrets of men’s hearts that we don’t even clearly know. That doesn’t mean that we don’t expose sin. Of course we do! That’s normal Christianity. But Paul said there are some things that we just can’t get into, that we just can’t know. “I apply these things to myself and Apollos for your sake.”
So Paul had an open attitude toward Apollos, even though it seems he was a little frustrated by him at times. He was a brother and gifted by God, for sure, but somehow he was a loner and may be considered as part of the universal Church.
Finally, the city of Athens held numerous new disciples (Acts 17:34-18:1), but there is no record of there being any “church” there. Nor did Paul travel back to Athens to establish the believers, or write letters to them, or even refer to them in his letters. Was there a “Church” there? Apparently Paul didn’t think so since he responded so differently to the other cities on that same journey where Churches were established (Corinth, Thessalonica, and Berea). Did the brothers and sisters of Athens move to another city where there was a Church? Or did they just stay put and have a “nice little fellowship”? We have no clues from the New Testament, but one thing is clear. On Paul’s next trip to the area, one or two years later, he did not visit Athens.
What does that mean? There were believers in Athens, but no Church in Athens! At least, Paul didn’t act like there was a Church there. What does it mean when you have numerous disciples, baptized believers, in a city and yet God doesn’t seem to view that as a Church? What does that mean? It just doesn’t jive with our twenty-first century way of thinking. We think, “Where two or three are gathered together in His name, there’s a church.” But that isn’t what the scripture says. In the context of Matthew 18 Jesus is talking about how His people will function together in the working out of the purposes of God. He is saying, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I’ll work with you and confirm my Word amongst you. There will be binding and loosing” (vs. 18). Jesus said He would work with us if we are gathered in His name. If we agree together in prayer in His name, He will meet us on that ground (vs. 19). But, Jesus never said, “Where two or three are gathered, there’s a church there.” Never. A church is not automatically there just because there are believers gathered together.
Athens is an unusual circumstance, granted. But I just want to point out that it is possible to be part of the universal Church without belonging to what we’ll call a local Church or Lampstand or Foundation. The people are no less saved, but there isn’t a Church there.
The invalid expressions of the universal Church are far more common and widespread in the world today. These are the man-made units of denominations and parachurch “ministries.” We’re getting into big trouble when we establish these deviations from the Truth of God. Show me where there’s a “denomination” or “ministry” organization in the New Testament!
How can there be these “ministries” which have “headquarters” that separate them from the rest of the Body of Christ? They simply did not exist in the first century. There were no parachurch organizations devoted to feeding the poor or evangelizing a continent…devoted to this good thing or that good thing as their “ministry.” Show me in the New Testament where a parachurch organization specialized in their own special niche of “ministry.” It simply does not exist in a Church where they turned the world upside down and the Glory of God was manifested and fear seized all the people (yet many joined their number anyway!).
You don’t see the props of parachurch “ministries” where “a great number of priests were converted.” A Church filled with God’s Glory doesn’t need props. It doesn’t need systems, programs, visitation things, benevolence things, and who knows what else! God doesn’t need that kind of help.
Picture these words emblazoned on the sail of Jesus’ boat when He crossed Lake Galilee: Jesus Christ Ministries. Or picture a stone, propped outside the cave where Paul and some of the brothers met, with the words: Pastor Paul of Tarsus. It just doesn’t make sense! You can’t picture that kind of thing happening. When we raise up a “ministry” or denomination that is outside God’s expressions of corporate life in Christ, men are exalted, names are exalted, and people are exalted. And Jesus’ name is tacked on as a token gesture. This is clearly an invalid sense of the universal Church.
The very existence of the props is a clear declaration that God’s valid vehicles for His Glory have been pushed aside, either out of ignorance of the Word and the heart of God or because of ambition. Thus, “Ishmael” is born, always and forever more to “persecute the child born of the Spirit; it is the same now” (Galatians 4). His desired expressions are the apostolic companies of men and the clearly defined Church in a city, accountable to an easily identified local Church government. It is assumed by God that virtually every Christian would be part of that (Heb.13:17).
The truth of the matter is that in the New Testament the word “ministry” is one of those yucky, mistranslated, anglicized words. The Greek word usually rendered “ministry” simply means “service.” Does “Paul of Tarsus Services” make any sense? Of course not. Yet that’s what people are saying by their use of the word “ministries.” It may seem like a picky little thing, but not when you consider that because of this mistranslation, a whole scheme, a whole avenue of approach to the Christian walk and Christian life has been created that never existed in the Bible. We must go back and unravel some of these things, so that we can return to Christ as the Savior of the ekklesia, the Community of God.
3Jdg. 21:25; Heb.3:12-14; 1Cor.12:21-31; Mt.16:18; Acts 2:42-47, 4:32-33; Jdg.17:6. Back
4Acts 6:3; 1Tim.3:1-15; Eze.44:7-9; 1Sam.10:6-7; 1 Kings13:33-34; Ps.78:72; Ex.36:1-2, 35:31; Zec.3:6; Num.11:10-17. Back
5To illustrate how ridiculous the usual approach to understanding the Bible really is, let’s apply the principles across the board. For example, it would be, by honest consistency in modern exegetical methods, “unBiblical” to take up a collection on the “first day of the week” until the Church is in existence for about three years. We never read about such a thing until the first letter to the Corinthians is written, about 20 years after Pentecost.
Paul writes to the Church and says he wants them to take up a collection on the first day of the week. He was with them for a year and a half and never asked them to do that before (Acts 18:11). Paul first mentions the desirability of taking up a weekly collection years later so that he wouldn’t need to have one large collection when he arrived. There was a specific need at hand that the people could join their hearts to in a weekly collection. It was a specific need so Paul gave specific instructions about how to handle it. Does that mean we should make a law out of it and “institute” a weekly collection? Or would it be unBiblical to take up a collection for the first few years that a congregation is in existence? Surely you see the fallacy of this whole approach. It’s nothing but a big game where you search God’s Word in order to find out the “rules.” Back
6Acts 18:27; 2Cor.3:1; 2Cor.10:10-13, 11:6; 1Cor .16:12. Back
7Another word like that is “church,” which would be better translated “the community of God.” Or “interactive, interconnected, bonded, union of heart, mind, and lives in the recognizable, visible, Body of Christ.” Back