Church Models Introduction
A model is a pattern or plan that is set forth as something worthy to be imitated. Architects build miniature representations of what the future structure will look like. As such, models can help provide both vision and motivation regarding what is to be. Proverbs 29:18 says, “Without a vision people perish (or languish).” It is important that every leader have a vision for the future. Without such a vision (lit. prophetic revelation), the people will languish in mediocrity—becoming increasingly discouraged and distracted.
But where can a Christian leader find such a compelling vision? The obvious biblical answer is from the Lord himself. In the Old Testament, the Lord gave Moses a pattern for the temple in the wilderness (Exodus 25:9). In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of the temple, or dwelling of God on earth—being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:19-22). The apostle Paul indicates that God gave him grace as a “master builder” (lit. architect) to lay a foundation for the church upon which others could build up the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:10). As a result, it is clear from the New Testament that the visionary model from which churches were founded came from the then living apostles and prophets.
Today, the vision for building the church comes from any number of sources including the orthodox claim of direct “apostolic succession,” from either the apostle Peter (Romans Catholics) or through the consecration of bishops (Eastern Orthodox) whose legacy can purportedly be traced to the early apostles of Jesus. In Protestantism, the pattern for building the church comes from historic denominational founders such as Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Menno Simons, John Smythe (Baptist), Eudorus N. Bell (Assembly of God), Aimee Semple McPherson (Four Square), etc. Additionally, mega church leaders are establishing non-denominational networks, associations, and alliances (Hybels, Haggard, Schuller, Warren). Finally, C.P. Wagner’s “apostolic reformation” designation asserts that post-denominational apostolic teams are being formed to provide structural models and oversight for related churches.
RWM is appreciatively familiar with all of these models and highly suggests that every church leader associate with, or create a reputable trans-local organization that can provide structural vision, encouragement, resources, and accountability. Remember, integrity implies the ability to healthily integrate into something larger than oneself. The opposite of integration is disintegration—which is exactly what cancerous cells do to the human body. Selah
Let the Lord be magnified!