Church Format vs. Church Function

Brad Taylor
6 min readMay 20, 2021

Title: Church Format vs Church Function

The concept is not original to me. But I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately.

The church has a primary Function. And the church has a Format.

FUNCTION of the Church:

The Function is What the church does. We are specifically looking at what is the primary Function of the church?

The primary Function of the church is to make God’s Name great and His Salvation known in all the world so that God will be Glorified.

God tells us the church does this by Making Disciples of Jesus who turn around and Make more Disciples of Jesus. This process continues until there are Disciples of Jesus among all groups of people in the world.

If you want to read more about the primary Function of the church being Making Reproducing Disciples then click here G2R — God’s Heart From Genesis to Revelation.

This article walks you from Genesis to Revelation showing the common theme throughout the Bible. Which is God is about making His Name Great and His Salvation known among all groups of people in the world. So that He will be Glorified. And God uses His people to make that happen as they are Making Reproducing Disciples.

FORMAT of the Church:

The Format of the church is how it is designed, comprised, organized, and structured. How the church operates on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis.

When I’m talking about the Format of the church I’m not talking about the Body of Christ.

What I’m talking about is the superstructure that we have built on top of the Body of Christ. This superstructure comes about as each local church takes the Biblical Body of Christ principles and asks:

“How do we best live out these principles in our culture?”

“How do we live out these principles so we are the most accurate representative of God in our culture/context?”

This produces the Format of the local churches. The Format would include such things as: when you meet, how often you meet, where you meet, do you own a building or rent or meet in homes, how long do you meet, how you structure your service, do you take up an offering, do you have announcements, do you have a bulletin, do you have music, do you have public prayers, do you have someone that teaches, what percentage of the the meeting is devoted to teaching, when do you have communion, do you have children’s ministries, do you have Sunday School, do you have a Christian School associated with your church, who is on the Church staff, etc.

All of this makes up the superstructure that is placed on top of the Body of Christ.

In trying to get people to evaluate the superstructure placed on top of the Body of Christ I am attacked for criticizing the Church. We have made the created superstructure synonymous with the Body of Christ. To the point where we can not distinguish between the two. The actual Body of Christ and the superstructure are the same in our eyes.

Thus, questioning of the superstructure is perceived as criticism of the Body of Christ.

I’m not criticizing the Church (The Body of Christ). What I’m wanting is for us to have an honest conversation about the effectiveness of the superstructure we have constructed.

We have reached the point where we are unwilling to honestly evaluate the present Format of church. Because in our minds the Format is the Body of Christ.

Oh, we will make a few minor tweaks to the Format but that is as far as we are willing to go. We refuse to make significant changes to the Format because we like the present Format. We are comfortable with the present Format. The present Format is the way it has always been and it is all we know.

And to most of us the present Format is the only option for how a church, our local church, should be constructed. Because in our minds the superstructure and the Body of Christ are the same thing.

To help conceptualize the difference between the two. Consider … If every local church closed its doors today would the Body of Christ (the Church) cease to exist? The answer is “No”.

If this is true then there must be a difference between the Body of Christ and the superstructure (Format) we have created for the church.

The primary Function of the Church is to Make Disciples of all groups of people in the world to Glorify God. And the Format of the Church is what we have constructed to form the superstructure.

It appears we have taken the primary Function of the church and made it subordinate/subservient to the Format of our church.

We make the primary Function of the church serve our desired Format of the church. This Format being the one with which we are most comfortable and have always known.

The present church Format has produced …

At a minimum, 80% of Christians that practically never share the Gospel with Unbelievers

A church in the USA that is losing ground to the population growth rate.

A world where 2,500 people die on average every hour having never had the opportunity to hear the Gospel.

The point I’m trying to make is that the present Format of the church is not producing a church that is most effectively carrying out its primary Function.

The reason is that we are starting with our desired Format and trying to fit the primary Function into the Format we like.

What I’m proposing is let’s start with the primary Function of the church — that we are to be Making Disciples of Jesus. This is our primary Function as individual believers and as a local group of believers.

Let’s start with this primary Function that we are commanded to fulfill. Then we can take a step back. Ask the question “What is the optimum superstructure we should design that most effectively supports us fulfilling our primary Function of Making Disciples?”

This is changing the narrative. This is making the Format (superstructure) of the church serve the primary Function of the church. Instead of the present model which has the primary Function of the church having to fit within our preferred comfortable Format.

What if we start from scratch. Design the structure of the church to most effectively fulfill the primary role of the church. The primary role we have been assigned by our Savior — the King.

This would be an exciting discussion to have. But before it can happen we must move past our unwavering allegiance to our desired present church Format. The same Format we have built on top of the Body of Christ and now consider the two as one.

We must reach the point where the majority understand that we are a church which is to be …

1. Going

2. Baptizing and

3. Teaching to Obey Everything Jesus Commanded.

This is our primary role. Our primary Function.

With this being our primary Function, we must ask, answer, and act upon answers to the following question:

“What is the best structure and organization of our local church that will enable us to most effectively fulfill our assigned primary Function?”

When we are told that we should change our forms of evangelism and preaching based on the cultural context in order to be most effective. That we are not to change the core of the message but alter our forms of our evangelistic efforts.

If it is acceptable to change our forms of evangelism and preaching in order to be most effective at reaching our present culture.

Then …

Why is it wrong to change our church Format (superstructure) based on our present cultural context in order to be most effective at our primary Function of Making Reproducing Disciples?

Until All Hear,

Brad Taylor