Framework to Compare 21st Century Models

There are a number of ways you can approach the comparison of church models in the 21st century.  Early church models and images are one frame of referents. Richard Neibuhr offers a way to describe the church’s relationship with culture while Avery Dulles provides a lens on theological aspects. Neil Cole suggests a more organic model that considers the unique contributions of a decentralized church.

Using these as a base, I would suggest these thirteen elements:

  1. definition of and sources for understanding of church (scriptural references, analogical images, theological frame)
  2. location (gathering place/space)
  3. who can (cannot) be members and what expectations are there for them
  4. site of authority/power (or lack thereof)
  5. definition of leadership roles and ministries
  6. elements of formation and lifelong learning
  7. process  for discernment
  8. use and role/place of ritual (and sacraments)
  9. means of salvation
  10. understanding of mission
  11. opportunities for faith-based, justice-seeking action
  12. sustainability
  13. view of “thorny” issues (i.e. abortion, gay marriage, women clergy).

What would you add/subtraact?


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