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The Local Church: A definition

Recently, I was asked to come up with a definition for the local church as part of an assignment for a course I am taking at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The parameters were that the definition be limited to the local church (e.g. do not include universal church) and it be no more than 100 words.


The idea is to provide a thorough, yet succinct definition. Here is my initial draft:


A local church is a group that has been baptized by immersion upon a credible confession of faith in Jesus Christ and associates around mutually affirmed doctrinal convictions. The local church members agree to regularly assemble for worship, fellowship, instruction, service, and accountability. The local church is the primary place to fulfill the New Testament “one-another” commands and the principal means of carrying out the Great Commission locally and globally. Structurally, the local church is overseen by Biblically qualified Elders, while Deacons lead in service to the church and community, with the entire congregation following their example.

I would love your feedback: what would you add or take away? How would you define the local church in 100 words or less?

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5 commenti


Steven Schultz
Steven Schultz
26 gen 2023

Hey Jeremy, It's good. My definition would include "congregationally governed" in the "structure" section.

Mi piace

It is a good definition. I like the element of acts 2 for service, fellowship, worship. I would specify the two ordinances as they are to be performed BY the local church but I could see them identified as a “service”.

Mi piace
jeremydscott02
jeremydscott02
13 gen 2023
Risposta a

Thanks for the input, Josh! I wrestled with the ordinances. I had them listed in a separate sentence, but ended up taking them out because they fall under worship (IMO) and baptism is listed as a qualification in the first sentence. That pesky word count limitation! But I am seriously leaning toward putting something specific about the ordinances back in the definition.

Mi piace

Vic Lindblom
Vic Lindblom
11 gen 2023

Hi, Jeremy,

Your definition of the local church is good in our circumstances and in our fellowship. However, it is too specific for churches across the spectrum of faith, locale, and level of persecution. For a believer in Afghanistan, the people of Sat-7 may constitute their church. A local group in China may never be able to meet together, but they could support each other. Baptism is very important, even in the persecuted church, but it is not requisite for becoming a functioning part of the local body. Membership in an institutional church is different from being a part of God's local church. Paul did direct Titus to select leaders in certain circumstances, but the Holy Spirit bind…

Mi piace
jeremydscott02
jeremydscott02
13 gen 2023
Risposta a

Thanks for the reply, Vic! Much to think about in your post. The 1st Century church did have persecution and they assembled. Also, the author of Hebrews wrote to people going through persecution and he told them to not forsake the aseembling together. It seems that assembling is a sine qua non of a church.

Mi piace
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