When we say the word “church” we tend to see this as a local congregation, but what if our entire paradigm regarding church was missing the idea that the whole church exists within and should be seen as an area-wide distributed spiritual city-state of the Elect?
What if I said your specific local congregation, as a synagogos, wasn’t “the church” as an area-wide community but a fractal of the whole? What if I said that your family and a new/old construct, an extended multi-family household of faith, was as much of a constituent entity of the church as your local congregation?
None of this takes away from your local congregation and what it does now. We are talking about expanding your concept of the church, not limiting or undermining the present role and functions of your local congregation.
Let’s begin with our view of the church, albeit with an important caveat that this represents convictions, not a doctrine by which we would judge who is or isn’t a child of God. You may cling to the mental constructs of what church is all you wish and it won’t jeopardize your soul, but, we propose, it may keep you from fully actualizing God’s best for your life with excellence in this life.
Envision the church at an area level, like a multi-county area that is known as a contiguous area. For instance, “the church in Galatia” was an area in what is now south-western Turkey with multiple cities and villages. It was at once a distinct community from the surrounding communities wherein its members dwelled and a part of the whole fabric of society within the area as a salt and light witness for Jesus.
The word for church is EKKLESIA. The word had many specific meanings depending on context and, we asd this caution, our way of using and understanding this word is not set in stone or doctrinal. Our conviction is that the concept of Ekklesia as used to describe the assemblage of all Believers should be informed by the concepts of an assembly governing a city-state.
The WAY the “church in Galatia” is described and shown to function, as a single community of people distributed throughout the physical communities in an entire area, has the feel of something approximating the traditional and well-known Greco-Roman city-state model. In essence, if the Kingdom of God is a spiritual Kingdom, then the Ekklesia in a given area is a spiritual city-state.
The Christian “church” is an irreducibly complex entity: in its fractal it is two or more gathered in Jesus’s Name, but in its fullness we propose it should not be subdivided from the city-state scale, where the city-state is based on a spiritual foundation and is distributed, in the form of its core constituent entities, throughout an entire area.
This is the concept of the area-wide Body of Christ as a spiritual city-state and the church as the gathered assembly of the entire “citizenry” of that spiritual city-state who are its Electors. While it is logical that the fractals and constituent entities of the whole would in many ways resemble the whole and emulate its offices and functions, it is perhaps liberating and powerful to consider the meaning and practices of these offices and functions from the perspective of an area-wide distributed spiritual city-state.
This will make the “local congregation as supreme” advocates uncomfortable because it may be seen as undermining centuries of church tradition wherein every local congregation assumes it embodies in itself the totality of churchdom, as it were, and its officers as the very people spoken of when the Bible describes the offices and functions of the Ekklesia. We use the term “solo grande”, which implies a grand and solo authority which brooks no refusal or dissent, and this has more or less colored the “modern” local church model since the 15th and 16th centuries when the present form really became the model most Christians followed.
Every local church and ITS clerical leaders became the beginning and end of what the very meaning of church was and the larger, distributed spiritual city-state of the Elect was pushed further from everyday consciousness until it virtually disappeared.
In our model of the church as the governing assembly of the spiritual city-state of the Elect, local congregations are the synagogos, places of gathering for religious observance, worship, and spiritual instruction, but also fractals of the whole with the same basic governance model based on the offices and functions of the area-wide spiritual city-state of the Elect. The Pastor of a local congregation ought to be as much like a village mayor or chief caring for their congregation as if it was a locally distributed intentional community as a clerical leader.
The core constituent entities of the area-wide spiritual city-state of the Elect and its governing assembly include things like married couples, nuclear families, extended multi-family households of faith (a “lost” Biblical institution we ought to restore), and local congregations. The actual physical and/or virtual gathering of the Elect, using the Polis model of Ekklesia as the gathering of ALL Electors, is the ultimate full realization of this model in practice. We can infer logically that any association and structure whereby two or more Believers engage and connect with Christ as their head is also a constituent entity of the area-wide spiritual city-state of the Elect and its governing assembly.
It is within the extended multi-family households faith, oikos in the Bible, kinship communities in our terminology, that we find a place where the core elements of the Kingdom more of less all connect: the Ekklesia is modeled in its governance, the Ethne or “nationhood” is the basis of its kinship (more on that follows), it is the Oikos of the familial unit that includes a more expensive view of the family, and it is a part of the larger Koinonia which is freewill participation based on objective standards and norms rooted in God’s standards of righteousness and justice.
To unpack all these things would take multiple articles. But to simply realize a more expensive, comprehensive, and holistic view of the church with all these elements of the Kingdom and all these core constituent entities is a paradigm shift that better equips us to adapt and navigate within a largely hostile surrounding culture. This view does not threaten or eliminate the local congregation as a vital part of the whole church, but it does threaten the solo grande model by which one effectively sees and experiences the church mostly through this limited venue and mostly as something religious and more ephemeral.
The intentional restoration of the ancient multi-family households of faith, often translated as households, or oikos, is a meeting point and expression of all core elements of the Kingdom, including yet another “lost” element, the nation. Many diverse nations as a spiritual construct are, we firmly believe, ordained and predestined by God to fill this earth and to make it easier for people to find God if they seek Him.
What we see in the ancient concept of an extended multi-family household of faith is that it requires the spiritual cohesiveness of being a fractal of the whole church and its its most basic core constituent entity. But it also demands the organic cohesiveness of a shared nationhood and that every nation of people whose God is the Lord ought to consider this structure to be its core constituent entity as well.
Your local congregation cannot embody all the social, cultural, and economic as well as civic functions and structures one might envision if church is more like a spiritual city-state and distributed intentional community than merely a religious club.
These ideas and concepts each deserve their own thorough review, it is sufficient for now to at least see in this a paradigm changing shift from church as a limited religious club to church as an area-wide distributed spiritual city-state whose Electors include all citizens of the Kingdom regardless of their unique forms of nationhood and of their local congregational affiliation. At the very least, you should see in this that if we explore the ancient, Biblical models for the church we find structures and institutions that our modern society has undermined, perverted, and destroyed.
The promotion of spiritual nationhood as a parallel sociocultural and socioeconomic system and civilizational structure as well as the intentional restoration, albeit in modern form, of the extended multi-family household of faith may be vital to building church, as in ekklesia, to fit the spiritual city-state model as opposed to the more limited religious club model.
There are those who will see any questioning of the solo grande clerical-led “local church” as an attack on the church. They see their 15th and 16th century inventions as if they are the final or only true form for the church and would balk at any notions not contained in this tradition. The conflating of any questions of the present church-as-religious-club model with an attack on the sanctity of the church is common and only serves to keep the church irrelevant and weak within a morally and spiritually depraved culture.
You don’t have to stop “going to church” or pastoring a church in order to challenge yourself to think more expensively and holistically about the church at the area-wide level.
Our approach is not to try and convince everyone to form area-wide governance structures that include all Believers. Creating “unity” through a top-down structure that tries to corral every Christian to be part of it won’t create unity, it is, frankly, a “tower of Babel” approach.
Our approach to ekklesia as a spiritual city-state of the Elect and its governing assembly is to focus on embodying its concepts and practices internally among ourselves in the hope others will do the same. In reviving nationhood and taking it to a new level of praxis in our daily lives and in rebuilding the ancient extended multi-family households of faith as the core constituent entity of both the nation and the ekklesia, we become what we envision and others are bound to copy until that which we see, the unity of the whole Body of Christ in a given area, emerges naturally and from the heart.
It may or may not be true that those who control most church structures, from local congregations to denominations, will resist this because they see it undermines their solo grande authority over their felllow Believers. It may be, however, that those “clergy” who embrace and nurture this both within their own congregations and as members of other core elements of the Kingdom will be among the most “successful” at reaching the lost, growing their congregation, nurturing their members, being a salt and light influence to others, and promoting true unity among Believers.
It is neither necessary nor useful to treat these concepts as a doctrine or to look askance at anyone who isn’t at a place where they are willing to explore, let alone accept, these concepts. We present this to challenge and edify, not to divide or condemn. It explains how we see the church, but it isn’t required of you in order to be a Christian.