Is Campus Crusade A Local Church?

“The way you’re sitting: you’re still not so sure about what I’m saying….”

“Well yes. I mean at first it sounded like you were making a very narrow distinction about what a local church is. Then you basically say all churches are crippled–.”

“Well most anyway. I can’t really prove all.”

“Fine, so most. But I think you’re ignoring some things like Christ says where two or three are gathered in my name that’s a church. So even if they’re messed up, the church is made up of people. That would mean any group of Christians is still a church. Even Campus Crusades.”

“Christ is talking about the matter of discipline and yes he’s there in the matter of bringing a charge against a sinning brother or sister but eventually he also says to bring the matter before the church—which, you’re right: is people. The local manifestation of the Universal Church, I’ll use the term Assembly, is defined by the goals and work (as I said before) but the boundary markers are seen by those seven points. Of course, assemblies might be weak on one or more of the markers but that doesn’t negate the legitimacy of their gathering. So yes, I’m both narrowing the definition and broadening it”

“Whatever Yoda…but you haven’t addressed my main concern. Is campus crusade a local church? Should they have a membership roster? Collect for the poor? Discipline each other?”

“I’m going to answer it this way: Campus Crusades is a local manifestation of the universal church—they are an assembly. But by divorcing themselves from all the other boundary markers they are horrendously crippled. They’re like a man without legs.”

“But how can you say that? They’re together for the preaching of the Gospel! That’s their whole purpose.”

“Exactly and that’s a problem. Their mission (of preaching the Gospel) is something they (as individuals) do apart from being part of the Universal Church. It becomes a Christian duty as part of X-Club instead of the Whole Church’s duty. They won’t discipline each other. Their remembrance of the Lord in the Supper is a coincidental relationship they have from across whatever denominations they come from. They won’t necessarily give themselves over to the Apostles’ Doctrine as a group. And they won’t even necessarily have to be known for their loving each other. Their worship practices are outside the realm of Gospel preaching and their moral practices are each members’ own business. In the end everything the Church Is has been put to the side so that they can partake in the Work of The Church.”

“So you’re saying they can do the work but they’re doing it illegitimately?”

“No, I’m saying they can legitimately do the work but as an assembly they’re crippled.”

“What does it matter if as an assembly they’re crippled? They’re not a church (or an assembly—whatever): they’re people preaching the Gospel. You might as well say the groups in your church, when they go out to preach the Gospel they’re crippled.”

“Well that’s different.”

“How so? They’re still getting together for a task.”

“Yes, but the group going out to preach the gospel is doing it as part of the community of the assembly. Those Christians that go out to do the work in a little group are supposed to be known for their love for each other, have a testimony of working with each other, should know about each other’s lives and are even subject to the discipline in their assembly. Campus Crusades (and any other group that gets together like this) is sacrificing everything else for what they see as important in that gathering. It’s a worthy cause but its healthier when its done as part of the assembly.”

“Well how about Christian Schools: wouldn’t they be an assembly?”

“I think I would say yes and awfully crippled as well. They’re together for doctrine and teaching but they don’t necessarily have to be known for their love for one another or even pure worship practices. Discipline becomes a matter of breaking school rules and worship practices are relegated to what you go and do with Your Christians somewhere else. Even preaching the Gospel winds up becoming something you do to fill up your semester credits.”

“Okay, Yoda. Everybody has it wrong: what do you think is the solution?”

“Getting back to the Gospel.”

“But you just said—“

“Yeah, and I’m going to unpack that in my next post.”

Rest of the Series.

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