We agree with Christ-followers throughout the world that our primary purposes are to glorify God (Ephesians 3:10, 20-21) and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Simply put, we’re trying to accomplish what all true followers of Christ seek to accomplish.
The big question is, “How?” How do we glorify God and accomplish the Great Commission? In one way, the answer is simple: faithful obedience to the word of God — the Bible.
But 2,000 years of church history and long-enjoyed traditions can distract us from faithful obedience to Scripture, making it difficult for sincere Christians to clearly see the way Christ intended for us to serve Him.
But, Jesus’ Apostles showed us in the Book of Acts exactly how they understood Jesus’ Great Commission. So, faithful obedience to the word of God requires that we develop 21st-century expressions of the Apostles’ first-century methods and forms.
While it is true that we have freedom when choosing methods and forms, they’re not all equal. Some are more faithful to the New Testament example. Some are better suited to accomplish New Testament functions.
The decline of the church in America and Europe, has prompted many Christian leaders to take a fresh look at the methods and forms of the Apostles. This has resulted in a movement of 21st-century churches using first-century methods and forms.
CityChurch Lawrence is part of this global movement.
We believe this is exactly what our culture needs. The weakening of the family has created a hunger for what the church is intended to be: a family of families. The present consumer-driven methods and forms of church — in which most people passively attend without making real connections — rarely fulfill this need. Deep, family-like relationships are desperately needed in our culture. We believe they can only be achieved through local churches striving to be a family of families as modeled in the New Testament.
The ministry of the Apostle Paul models these first-century methods and forms which were intended to be “imitated” (1 Corinthians 11:1-2; 2 Timothy 2:2):
- As people trusted Christ, simple churches were planted that met in homes around a shared meal. The setting was crucial in making the church like a family — lovingly strengthening members while extending genuine hospitality to outsiders. These churches were a blessing to neighbors and cities, “a people zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:14; cf., Acts 2:47).
- As churches expanded they remained connected in a complex network (e.g., Romans 16; Colossians 4). The churches were simple — no expensive buildings and bulky programs — so when the Holy Spirit provided opportunity, the church quickly expanded into new areas. Churches were in local networks that were in larger networks.
- A network of many churches required many leaders. All Christians were considered members of the Body with important gifts to be discovered and used (1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12). Everyone was established in the faith. Leaders were developed in the context of ministry — eventually entrusted with the task of expanding and establishing more churches (e.g., Timothy).
So, what are we trying to accomplish? The same things!
- We’re inviting people to trust Christ, then we’re planting simple churches in homes. We call them Neighborhood Churches because we’re asking God to allow us to plant one in every neighborhood in Lawrence. We meet every Sunday evening around a meal, a discussion of the Bible, and a sharing time in which everyone is invited to participate. We’re also exploring ways we can be a blessing to our city by cultivating relationships with our neighbors and city leaders.
- As more churches are planted, they are part of the CCL network — a church of churches. We are also working with national and global networks of like-minded churches and leaders.
- Our leaders provide a life development plan to help every person become rooted and built up in Christ, and discover the lifework God has for them. Some serve in leadership roles and others serve in supportive roles depending on gifting, training and commitment. But all serve the same purposes: Glorifying God by making disciples for Jesus Christ.