Most of us understand that making disciples is the mission the church is called, but most of us have very different views of what that means. First is the knowledge church which is big on expositional teaching, theology, in-depth teaching, and many classes. Next is the service church. They’re serving homeless people, operating food pantries, clothes closets, building orphanages in Guatemala, and anything else practical they can do with their hands. Finally is the heart church. They’re the church where members are getting coffee with each other at 6 in the morning talking about each other’s lives, walking through marriage problems, job problems, and general life situations. Even as you read this, you probably resonate with one or two of the three of these churches. That’s where you lean probably based on who you are. It’s the head, heart, and hands aspect of discipleship.
So, which is right? They all are! And, we’re called to do all three. Not just one or the other. So, what does a church look like that has all three and why are all three important?
1. Head Church. Doctrinally Strong Church.
So that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. -Eph 4:14
In the New Testament, the church is warned again and again about false doctrine and false teachers. They were expected to know what they believed and why they believed it. The Corinthian church was so loosey goosey on doctrine that Paul wrote some of his largest letters to the churches to the Corinthian church. Good doctrine grounds a disciple, so every time someone comes out with some new doctrinal fad, they don’t go running and believing everything they hear. How do these popular pastors that spit prosperity Gospel out of their mouths have so many followers? Because their followers don’t have any doctrinal grounding.
However, churches that only have disciples that are engaged intellectually can often be cold dead places. In Revelation 2, John talks about the Ephesian church who, on the surface, appear to be a solid doctrinal church. Yet, he says in verse 4, “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” Knowledge about God without any heart engaged with Him is no heart at all but classroom zeal and a dead church.
Also, knowledge churches can do a lot of talking about doing things but not a lot of action. They become empty words instead of real action.
2. Heart Church. The “One Another” Church.
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” -Galatians 5:13-14
A church that truly follows the one anothers is a church that anyone would want to be a part of. I mean, imagine a church where anytime there is a need, someone is jumping to meet it. People are jockeying for serving one another instead of jockeying over authority. This is a beautiful picture and one that the New Testament paints. Many of our churches look more like strangers gathering together than a family of people going through life together. This type of church takes transparency and authentic disciples to not only share their struggles with one another but to serve one another with absolute joy. It isn’t a church of leeches but a church of servants.
A heart church can be so concerned with one another that they see doctrine, biblical teaching, and theology as topics that have no place in the church. They don’t see a reason for it because they believe they should be hanging out with each other. The problem with this line of thinking is that we can’t ground our relationships without our worldview in which we see people. Without a good theological foundation, our theology will shift like grains of sand fitting the person instead of giving true living words that come from God and His Word.
A heart church can also be so concerned with helping each other that they don’t want to serve outside of the church. They love each other, and they have a genuine family feel. Have you ever known families who were super close? It’s so easy for families to hang around each other all the time that they have zero time for anyone who isn’t apart of the family. As believers, we should always have an open hand to the world extending the invitation of the Gospel.
3. Hands Church. The Serving Church.
And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. -Acts 4:31
A hands church can come in many shapes and sizes. Some are always invested in the least of these such as homeless ministry, jail ministry, orphan care ministry, and other poverty type ministries. Some are high evangelistic churches that are great at knocking on doors, meeting people, doing evangelistic events, etc. We see biblically that it was just expected that the church be bold followers of Jesus sharing the message of the Gospel without fear of what anyone else thought.
The biggest problem for the hands church is experiencing real community. They are more than happy to get out into the community and city serving wherever they can, but they have a hard time opening up to others about their own issues. They can ignore their problems and character issues for all that is going on around the world. They are so focused on the external issues of the world that they have not taken the time to be introspective and examine their own hearts.
Also, hands churches often neglect theology and good exposition of Scripture because they only want their lost friends to hear about Jesus. They think they don’t need to learn anymore because they’ve learned all that they need.
A church that combines all three of these is a solid church, and it’s the type of church that I hope Redemption Church will be. It’s incredibly difficult to do all three, and I often feel that we drift from one extreme to the other. But, our job is to do all three because the Bible dictates it.