Church, defined

January 1, 0001

When my organization, Beyond, reports statistics about churches and believers, it’s because we have spreadsheets and lists of those entities, and we use the following definitions.Baptized believers: A person from the people group who has made a profession of faith in Christ (Romans 10) and has received baptism.

The baptism has been verified.

Group: a regular meeting to learn to obey the commands of Jesus (not necessarily baptized believers!) and/or baptized followers of Christ.

DBS and T4T formats are typical of the group meeting process.

These are “seeker-oriented” groups - they do not always become churches, and are not counted among church numbers.

Church: A group of baptized believers who regularly meet and carry out the functions such as described in Acts 2:37-47, have recognized leaders, and have self-identified as a church.

Some movements do not define a church as a church until it starts another ekklesia. Also, because of the distinctive focus on obedience-based discipleship, combined with studies of Acts 2 and other passages on the responsibilities of the church, some movements will not define a church as a church unless they are feeding the poor, healing the sick, helping the widows, etc.

Finally, we emphasizing discipling whole “households” - pre-existing social units - to faith, rather than grouping strangers.

In these situations, leadership is typically already present in the group, and then enhanced by God’s giving of gifts, etc.