The Contrast Between Institutional Church and Home Based Simple Church

The Institutional/


Cathedral Church Model

The New Testament Apostolic Model

Tends to “look and feel” more like a social club or business corporation.

Tends to “look and feel” more like a family reunion.

Doesn’t seem like a legitimate church until a building is rented or built.

Is legitimate church when there are real brethren who love each other and are mutually accountable.

Meets in a building.

Meets in homes, or other small, intimate places for bulk of its meetings, while occasionally having a larger, region-wide celebration.

Choose the “somebodies” to lead, whom, like king Saul, “look good.”

Choose the “nobodies” who are filled with the Holy Spirit, but who do not necessarily “look good.”

Tends to focus on the ministry of just one or a few individuals.

Sees all believers’ ministries as equally valid and vital.

Structured as an organization.

Lives life as an organism.

Pastor starts the work.

Church planter/Apostle starts the work.

Relies almost exclusively on paid, professional clergy to run and maintain the system.

Depends exclusively on each believer and equips each to expand the Kingdom.

Pastors, teachers, and evangelists are the primary leaders.

Apostles, prophets, and elders are the primary leaders.

Plans programs and assumes relationships will naturally flow.

Focuses on relationships and utilizes programs only when they will benefit.

Places emphasis on programs typically run by a small number of professionals.

Places emphasis on relationships and all brethren participating.

Financed by tithes and offerings; funds are distributed by executive or committee decision.

Brethren share with one another and the poor.

Guidance for decision making processes is usually by logic, reasoning, business models, and Robert’s Rules of Order.

Guidance is by eyes on the Scriptures and hearts on the Holy Spirit.

Usually has a member system with minimal class requirements and other miscellaneous commitments.

Each one who knows Christ is linked into a group of relationships; all are “members.”

Evangelism is done primarily through outreach, crusades, programs, and specialists.

Evangelism is a result of day-to-day, natural interaction with others in neighbourhood, school, and workplace.

Trained ministers are hired-in to do a job.

Believers are raised up from within and equipped to perform ministry.

Bulk of tithe and offering “revenues” go toward salaries and building-related expenses.

Bulk of offerings is dispersed into missions, helping the poor, etc..

Battle cry is to get people into the church building.

Battle cry is to get the church (people) in 24-7-365 relationships and smaller groups.

Sees the church building as the “house of the Lord.”

Views all believers as living stones which make up a temple that is not made by hands.

The “distinctives” usually are a name, a building, a pastor, youth program, doctrinal stands.

The “distintives” are their simple, pure devotion to Jesus and their love for one another.

Large, impersonal groups.

Small, intimate groups.

Behavioural goal is to adhere to defined lists of rules.

Behavioural goal is to abide in Christ.

Often has corporate debt obligations due to facility.

Shuns debt except for a debt of love to all.



The Pastor is the leader and the CEO/President.

More mature brothers, referred to as elders, help care for and watch over less mature ones.

Decision making is usually performed by the senior Pastor, occasionally with input from the ruling board.

Decision making is done in unity by the elders and/or the non-elders.

Weekly services.

Daily fellowship.

Generally reserves prominent ministry positions for paid staff.

All believers are welcomed into ministry according to the measure of grace and resource that God gives.

Makes a distinction between clergy and laity.

Sees no such distinction in Scripture; all are “ministers,” only recognizes character and gifting.

Discipleship model is more like a teacher with a class of students.

Discipleship model is person to person, mentoring role models, living life together.

Makes converts generally through a series of programs or formal outreaches.

Makes converts through the natural course of equipped believers loving the unsaved into the Kingdom.

“Message” focus is more on theological issues.

“Message” focus is more on affection toward Jesus and each other.

Teaching style is usually lecture, monologued-based.

Teaching style is dynamic dialogue.

Knowledge of the Bible is the main emphasis.

Knowing the Word of God and doing the works of God is the emphasis.

Most important tasks of pastor are to create church programs, preach good sermons, perform ceremonies, counsel, and hospital and home visits.

Most important task of pastors is to equip each believer to do the work of the ministry (teach, counsel, visit, etc.).

Most important tasks of believers is to be present in meetings, participate in programs, and tithe.

Most important task of believers is to serve others.

Primary focus is on building membership of that church.

Primary focus is on building the entire Kingdom of God.

Often maintains surface relationships.

Encourages brethren to “go deep” in relationship; facilitates lots of sharing, bearing burdens, etc..

Mission statement is for everyone to become a faithful member.

Mission statement is for everyone to go and make disciples.

Principle training model is lecture method.

Principle training model is discipleship and mentoring.

Typically focuses on one meeting time (Sunday or ?).

Allows for any day/time to meet, especially if it facilitates better fellowship; encourages 24/7 interaction.

Only a few prominent members regularly exercise spiritual gifts.

Everyone is encouraged to participate in use of all the spiritual gifts.

Maturity is measured by how much one knows.

Maturity is measured by how well one serves others.

Gains attention of unsaved through worldly marketing techniques.

Gains attention of unsaved through acts of love and prophetic disclosure of the “secrets of their heart.”

Systems of theology and denominational distinctives are stressed.

Adherence to simplicity and purity of devotion to Jesus, while allowing freedom of thought, is focal point.

Missions emphasis is on sending specialized missionaries.

Missions emphasis is on sending teams of own people as multipliable units.

Attempts to “help” where Scripture is gray; tends to make everything black and white.

Allows Holy Spirit to deal with gray as situation arise.

Places heavy emphases on creating programs to make the ministry go forth.

Places heavy emphases on equipping people to make the ministry go forth.

Formation is principally through pastoral and evangelistic activity.

Formation is principally through apostolic and prophetic activity.

Most often meets in building auditorium or class room.

Most often meets in homes, except for occasional public celebrations.

Personal life and character of leadership are secondary to positional authority and gifting.

Personal life and character are what matter most in leadership.

Structure is more likened to a hierarchal pyramid.

Structure is flat.

Donates funds to mission organizations or partial funding of individuals.

Tends to encourage direct, total support of church planter/apostles/itinerants.

The type and amount of knowledge is important.

How well people love and serve one another are the significant issues.

Leadership is based on CEO/vocational/pastoral model.

Leadership is based on apostolic/elder model.

Administration is performed via the OT “Jethro-delegation model (Exodus 18).

Administration is performed via the five-fold ministry model (Ephesians 4).


About Sam Buick

A lover and disciple of Jesus Christ. Married to my best friend, Lori-Anne. Father to 3 incredible daughters, Carragh, Caitlin and Erinn, and sons-in-law Alex Barry, and Stephen Davis. An avid reader, a Droid user, a Mac addict, a lover of footy ball and football (there is a difference), and hockey. Once a soldier. Once a youth worker. Once an ordained minister. Once a claims adjuster. I don’t mind labels, labels define what type of Christian I am: I am a creationist I am a monergist I am a Trinitarian I am an imputationalist I am a Calvinist I am a cessationist ~ Samuel M. Buick
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