Church Development

We were all baptised by one Spirit into one body— whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free— and we were all given the one Spirit to drink

1 Cor 12:13

We live in an individualistic age, especially those of us who live or who are deeply influenced by the Western world. Sometimes, therefore, Christians think that what matters is my personal belief in Christ, what I believe in my heart. Hence, it is said, “I don’t need to go to church to be a Christian.”

However, this is to misunderstand the basic nature of Christianity as taught in Scripture. Of course individual, heart belief is crucial. Without it there is no salvation. But Christianity is essentially corporate. When we come to faith in Christ the Holy Spirit incorporates us into the worldwide body of Christ, the church. 

So the answer to the statement “I don’t need to go to church to be a Christian” is “You do if you want to be a really good Christian!”* Corporate worship, teaching fellowship and Communion are all essential to the Christian life

No church is perfect but the trouble is that many churches do not properly function as churches in the New Testament sense. They can be happy, friendly places where public worship takes place for an hour on Sunday– and that is good as far as it goes. But the New Testament envisages Christians being involved in a loving, united, but outward-looking fellowship where: 

  • each member belongs to all the others” (Rom 12:5) 
  • all the members “have equal concern for each other” (1 Cor 12:14). 
  • they frequently meet together to encourage one another (Heb 10:25) 
  • they “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Heb 10:24) 
  • they use their different gifts (e.g. encouragement, healing, sharing a word of wisdom, practical ability) to build up the fellowship in love. “From [Christ] the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Eph 4:16).

It can easily seem impossible for a church to develop such a fellowship, even on a group level, let alone the congregational level. But it is not. The resources in this section have been tried and tested in many churches. They may need some adaptation to local circumstances, but we experienced an ordinary Anglican parish church become such a fellowship. We distilled these resources from the experienced gained in the process.

There is however quite a bit of material which individuals can use, short articles or the longer “Called to Serve” course which has been used by well over 100,000 Christians.

If you have questions or comments, feel free to write to my blog.

*Obviously I am not referring to those who through illness or circumstances genuinely cannot attend church. God makes special grace available to such people.

Articles are arranged according to subject and to whether they are:
1. Short popular articles for the general reader
2. Longer popular articles for the general reader
3. More academic articles where relevant

Teaching on what the Church should really be like

Introduction
Being Radically Biblical in the Power of the Spirit

The materials below refer to Time Ministries International run by Tony and Patricia Higton. Please now contact Tony at higton01@btinternet.com

With extra advice for smaller churches & churches at an earlier stage of development.

PRACTICAL NOTES

  1. The audio files have been re-recorded from original tape recordings so, obviously, you can ignore any request to turn over to side 2. The material from side 2 of the tape will follow immediately (except in Session 4 when you need to move to Session 5, and Session 7 when you need to move to Session 8).
  2. You will find any of Tony and Patricia’s books referred to in the audio in the “Books” section of this website.

Teaching about the Holy Spirit

Teaching about Unity 

Short popular articles for the general reader

Teaching about Vision 

Short popular articles for the general reader

Teaching on Leadership 

Short popular articles for the general reader

Teaching on Spiritual Warfare 

Short popular articles for the general reader
Longer popular series for the general reader

Teaching on Prayer 

Short popular articles for the general reader

Teaching on Worship

Short popular articles for the general reader

Teaching on Housegroups

Further teaching about the Church 

Short popular articles for the general reader