Skip to main content

Notes From "Decoding The Church" - It's The Structure!

No one pours new wine into old wineskins.  If they did, the wineskins would burst, the wine would spill, and the wineskins would be ruined.  Instead, people pour new wine into new wineskins so that both are kept safe.
- Matthew 9:17

Picture: Pixabay
Here are some notes from a book called, Decoding The Church:Mapping The DNA of Christ’s Body, by Howard A. Snyder with Daniel V. Runyon (2002).  I will parachute in to chapter 4, ‘The DNA of Church Structure: Dead Ends’.  The authors critique three ‘dead ends’, that look promising, but ultimately are not the wineskins that are needed: megachurch, microchurch, and business models.

These are my notes:

“The power of the gospel is the wine, not the wineskin.”  The wineskin is the structure.  Church structure is made up of form and patterns, used to carry out mission.  Fundamental church structure is found in scripture.  Secondary forms and patterns or structure come from outside scripture.  Basic theology informs us about structural forms and patterns.  Pragmatism is outside theology.  We have tended to embrace secondary forms and patterns and pragmatism for structure, reading them into scripture.  So, we must ask, “what is church at the most foundational level?” (pp. 61-70)

About business: “Business does not teach the church what church is, but can teach church how to function as a human organization.”  (p. 71)

Chapter 5: The DNA of Church Structure, notes.

“Strangely, the church seems to have an inbred aversion to building ecclesiastical practice on scripture.”  (p. 77)

“The scripture must be our primary source for church structure.”  Four reasons:
  1. The Bible is God’s unique revelation about Jesus Christ and of his body, the church.  We have been big on mining the scripture for truths, about God and Christ; but not on ecclesiology, leadership, and how the church functions.
  2. Ecclesiology is a primary focus of scripture.  Since the reformation 1500 years ago, we have sharply focused on what the scriptures say about the plan of salvation – soteriology, while ignoring God’s plan for Christian community – ecclesiology, also found in scripture.  Individualism (and consumerism) has replaced corporate community (and radical generosity).  We have emphasized reconciliation to God, but neglected reconciliation to people.
  3. The scripture is filled with the example of what the new wineskin structure looked like and how it functioned, in the early church.
  4. We should go first to Scripture for guidance on church structure because Scripture uniquely combines church and mission.  There is little distinction between “church” and “mission” in the NT.  “The church does not have a mission, the mission has a church”, as someone has said.  Biblically this is true.  But, we must ask, Why is this true in the NT?  What can we learn from the scriptures about the meaning of church, so that we will have no need to place the word missional before the word church?  (pp. 77-80)

The next section of the book looks at Renewal Movements, as a way of seeing how new wineskins have worked in the past.


Popular posts from this blog

The Two Disciples and The Two Donkeys

When they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus gave two disciples a task.  He said to them, “Go into the village over there. As soon as you enter, you will find a donkey tied up and a colt with it. Untie them and bring them to me.  If anybody says anything to you, say that the Lord needs it.” He sent them off right away.  Now this happened to fulfill what the prophet said,  Say to Daughter Zion, “Look, your king is coming to you, humble and riding on a donkey, and on a colt the donkey’s offspring.”  The disciples went and did just as Jesus had ordered them.  They brought the donkey and the colt and laid their clothes on them. Then he sat on them.
-Matthew 21:1-7

On what we call Palm Sunday, Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem. But, he had two disciples get two donkeys: a mother donkey and her colt. Jesus rode the young male who had never been ridden before. In his carefulness and perhaps kindness towards these two donkeys, he had th…

God's Secret, Hidden People

(The children) of Elam 1,254.  -Ezra 2:7

Do you feel hidden?

The name Elam means secret or hidden.  Do you feel like you are on the shelf, not being used by God?  Maybe you are part of God's secret agents.

God has people who are in secret.

I have this idea that God has His attention on secret people.   I believe that God has rewards for secret people coming.  You may feel on the shelf, but you are actually hidden for a special purpose.  God has you in reserve.

The number one thousand, two-hundred, and fifty-four; tells us God's plan for his hidden, secret, and in reserve children

One thousand speaks of recompense.

Recompense means that you will be compensated or made amends to, due to harm or loss you suffered. In Genesis 20:16 is the story of Abimelech recompensing Abraham and Sarah.

Two speaks of fellowship, partnership, and co-laboring (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

There are hidden people who have felt like they are "going it alone", who are about to be joined by someone.  …

God Will Always Bless Your Rest, by Graham Cooke

Graham Cooke:

"So in Genesis 2, by the seventh day, God completed his work which he had done and he rested on the 7th day from all his work he had done, and then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it he rested from all his work which God had created and made.

God will always bless your rest.


Since I learned rest, there has never been a time when God has not blessed that rest and honored that rest and sanctified my rest.

In other words, set aside peace for me; set aside rest for me.

So, for me, therefore, when God blesses something and sanctifies it and sets it apart; what that means is rest is always available as an absolute essential for life.

So, every circumstance you encounter already has rest in the issue.

No matter how hard, no matter how harsh, no matter how difficult, no matter how awful; every single circumstance has rest, because it's the one thing that God has blessed and sanctified, in terms of his relationship with you.

So, it'…