Authentic Christian Community
we need a 21st Century Church that captures the true essence of the 1st
These early Christians understood what authentic Christian community was
all about, and they "lived" it. Congregations today can tap
into the same power that transformed these early Christians - "koinonia"
relationships which empowered renewal,
revival, reformation...and transformation.
are introduced to the word "koinonia" by
NT writers - Luke, Paul, and John. Luke writes in Acts 2:42-47
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching
and to the fellowship (koinonia), to the
breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many
wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers
were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions
and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued
to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes
and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying
the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily
those who were being saved.
Paul writes in 2 Cor. 13:14
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the
love of God, and the fellowship (koinonia)
of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
John writes in 1 John 1:3
We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard,
so that you also may have fellowship (koinonia)
with us. And our fellowship
(koinonia) is with the
Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
Koinonia is a Greek noun that is used 20 times in the NT which translates,
"partnership, participation, communion, and fellowship." Koinonia comes
from the Greek root word "koin" which translates "common sharing." Koinonos
(koy-no-nos) = sharer, associate, companion, partaker. Four aspects of
koinonia are predominately taught and applied in the NT: Fellowship, Communion,
Sharing, and Partnership.
- unified relationship
A. George Ladd (noted Bible scholar) writes in his book, A Theology
Of The New Testament, "Fellowship was one of the distinctive marks
of the Jerusalem church (Acts 2:42). This is something more than human
fellowship or the pleasure people of like mind find in each other's
presence. It is more that a fellowship in a common religion. It is
an eschatological creation of the Holy Spirit. This relationship exists
between people because they share a common relationship to Christ
(I Cor. 1:9). A bond exists between all who are in Christ that is
unique and transcends all other human relationships (p.543)."
- intimate relationship
Koinonia denotes a close, intimate relationship between people who
share a special love and concern for each other. Tom Marshall in his
book, Right Relationship writes, "The motivation for intimacy is the
desire to become one with another while still retaining our own identity.
We have a created need for intimacy, because only intimacy has the
capacity to end our loneliness. Intimacy creates vulnerability because
the walls are down between us and the emotions are always involved.
For intimacy to thrive requires a committed relationship. In relationships
we swing emotionally between two desires, a desire for intimacy and
a desire for privacy. You cannot be equally intimate with a large
number of people."
- bonding relationship
Koinonia is where people share their lives together. Acts 2:42 Message
"They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, THE
LIFE TOGETHER, the common meal, and the prayers." Sharing is
people giving and receiving from each other. 2 Cor. 9:13 "Because
of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise
God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel
of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone
else." Hebrews 13:16 "And do not forget to do good and to
share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased."
Philemon 1:6 "I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith,
so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we
have in Christ." Philip. 3:10 I want to know Christ and the power
of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings,
becoming like him in his death," Koinonia really happens when
Christians share their lives with each other. This cements a powerful
bond that is not easily broken.
In a Koinonia environment Christians work together in a divine partnership.
2 Cor. 8:23 "As for Titus, he is MY PARTNER and FELLOW WORKER
among you; as for our brothers, they are representatives of the churches
and an honor to Christ." 2. 1 Thes. 3:2 "We sent Timothy,
who is OUR BROTHER and GOD'S FELLOW WORKER in spreading the gospel
of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith," This
man-to-man, divine partnership is also between God and man. God doesn't
really need man's cooperation in ministry; but for the most part,
God doesn't choose to do ministry without man.
happens when purpose, process,
and people are
First, the Holy Spirit empowers purpose which lays the foundation for
vision, ministry and mission. Purpose defines why we exist, what is our
mission, what we hope to become. Purpose defines our vision which helps
us to "see";and then, purpose helps us "to be."
Next, purpose empowers process. The Holy Spirit uses a powerful process
to transform our lives through relational discipleship development - a
lifelong journey of faith. Through this process the Holy Spirit helps
people discover and develop spiritual gifts according to God's purposes.
These gifts help to define our mission. The fruit of the Spirit helps
define our level of character, maturity, and passion. God empowers this
process according to each person's unigue design and purpose.
Finally, this purposeful process empowers people. Through His Holy Spirit,
God empowers people to become
true ambassadors for Jesus Christ. This level of empowerment becomes "transferable"
from one person to another.
Through meaningful relationships people empower people. God designed "relationships"
to be the divine agents that connect people with each other and create
influential avenues for transformation.
The path towards biblical transformation only happens within the context
of "koinonia" relationships - the divine, supernatural attributes
of God connecting with the
the natural attributes of man. Transformation guides people toward relational
synergism, "oneness," and authentic Christian community. When
this happens, people are transformed into the image of Christ. Groups
of people are transformed into a true expression of New Testament Church
- the Body of Christ; and then, churches are transformed into city-churches,
powerful agents of Christian influence.
Through God's purposeful process of people transformation we are given
a real chance to experience God's divine love, enduring hope, and empowering
purpose for our lives.
staff of the Powerlife Project can help facilitate a path towards transformation
based upon biblical principles that are being applied by churches all
around the world.
These principles have helped churches turn vision into action, experience
phenomenal evangelistic growth, and transform the lives of hundreds of
thousands of people.
These Christians are finding a place where they belong...grow...and participate
in the building of "life-giving
community" that is:
welcomed environment pulsated with vibrant, caring relationships.
place where people are open and transparent; free of prejudice remarks
safe place for people to develop and exercise their gifts/talents
in service to one another.
wholistic Christian environment where people "connect" with God and
spiritual place where people love one another, pray, worship, and
experience Transformation Power
We recommend that churches map
out a journey towards a transformational process that is customized to their
current needs and aspirations. This should also be an empowering process
that helps people discover and energize their passions, gifts, and unique
talents. We also recommend that this process be based upon Christ-centered
that help churches cross
the threshold into the realization of explosive biblical dynamics. These
principles help create "relational synergism" - a community of
oneness where people "connect" in interdependent relationships
that are networked together in a "life-giving" community environment.
KEY PRINCIPLES FOR "BALANCED" CHURCH TRANSFORMATION >
> > . .
. . .
Spirituality - Experiencing Passion for God (Father, Son,
& Holy Spirit) & His Purposes
- Reaching Out in Love & Compassion for People & Their Needs
Environment - Building Authentic Christian Community
Evangelism - Speaking Contemporary Language & Building
Discipleship Development - Making Disciples, Mentoring
Disciplers, & Multiplying Mission
Ministry - Capitalizing On Strengths, Passions, Gift-orientation,
Servant Leadership - Raising-up Devoted Disciples of Jesus
Christ Who Lead By Example
Organizational Design - Casting Compelling Vision &
Facilitating a Biblical Approach To Management
- Creating Open Channels of Communication That Foster Clear Understanding
Outreach - Serving in Different Areas of Community Needs
& Empowering Local Missions
Ministry Tools - Utilizing Up-To-Date Technology in Music,
Multimedia, Communications, & Internet
- Building Relational Synergism Among Churches & Parachurch Ministries
for City Church Initiatives
should organize their energies and resources around these principles.
Their balanced transformational process should include a set of criteria
for each separate principle which includes: vision statements, core values,
strategic planning, goals and objectives. Each process should be viewed
as vital to the overall health and growth of the congregation.
Word of Wisdom
of the greatest stumbling blocks for church leaders is to care more about
"church" rather than its people.
In this sense the "church" represents form
(organization, structure, services, programs, etc.) rather than the living
organism that breathes life into that form - the people. We must be very
careful not to let form
take on a "life" and power of its own, independent of influence created
by people's growth in interdependent relationships and the transformational
power of the Holy Spirit.
Perhaps this is what the Apostle Paul meant when he denounced religious
activities as "having a form of godliness but denying
its power. Have nothing to do with them (2 Tim. 3:5)." The power
that empowers the form is the work of the Holy Spirit in transforming people
into the Body of Christ. Unless the form is made up of transformed lives,
then the form has no true life, only artificial existence.
For true transformation to take place,
some congregations are in dire need of "reformation"
- remodeling of the old form; or in other cases, birthing of brand new
forms (wineskins) that take off where old
forms have served their time and purpose. But let us not forget that forms
must serve the organism (the people) and not the other way around.
Depth and maturity in relationships breathe life into any form, making it
flexible, functional, and fun.
If we are to truly experience transformation in the life of a congregation
then we should spend more time investing in people's ability to experience
depth and maturity in relationships - with God and with each other. A considerable
amount of investment must be placed in helping people grow in healthy, interdependent
relationships (family, marriage, friendship, etc.). Transformed lives cause
"forms" to transform naturally and more easily according to God's plans.
Sitting in the sanctuary or a classroom listening to one person speak is
not creating opportunities for all people to experience depth and maturity
in relationships with each other. Yes, it does expose and somewhat create
a relationship with the one person speaking with all the people listening;
however, it's really a one-sided, non-reciprocating relationship. Yes, there
can be exposure for all the people to experience a moment of prayer together
- building a relationship with God, but there's still no one-on-one getting
to know each other and sharing in relationships. And even though we may
sit next to each other in a pew or chair for 1 ½ hours (or more) a week
at the church-house, the opportunity for building mutuality in relationships
is still very weak.
We must be about planting seeds of action (doing good things) in other people's
lives, working together, and building the process of getting to know each
other - caring for each other. Relationships are genuine, authentic, God-empowered
"connections." These create conduit for Holy Spirit transformation power
to flow. Transformation is "short-circuited" when conduit is damaged
Congregational transformation is simply an outward
expression of an inward change
in the lives of people who makeup a congregation - a network of vital, interdependent