EKKLESIA GATHERING & ONE CHURCH OF THE CITY CELEBRATION
A Statement Concerning the City Church
We affirm that there is only one church in any given city. The only apostolical ground for the division of the church is the city. The civil jurisdictions and boundaries of cities (including sub-cities comprising larger metropolitan cities) are the exclusive ground for the differentiation of the one church that is in Christ.
We affirm that all those who have the Spirit of Christ comprise the church of that city.
We deny that God ever intended any distinction of the church other than by city boundaries. Scripture does not sanction or model any extra-local configuration of the church whether regional, national, or international. Neither does it sanction any division of the church according to a particular theology, experience, leader, race, class, age, or gender. We deny that the ‘modality’ of the local church excludes the freedom of ‘sodality’ for the trans-local work of apostles and their teams
Article II Pre-eminence of Christ
We affirm the pre-eminence of Christ as head over all things to the church. While not denying that God gives ministry gifts to the church, Christ alone is the head of every person in the New Covenant so that all may know him and be guided by him.
We deny the legitimacy of any ministry or priestly intermediary as a covering between Christ and his church.
(1 Cor 11:3; Eph 1:22; 4:15, 16; 5:23; Col 1:17, 18; 2:19; 1 Tim 2:5; Heb 8:10-12)
Spiritual/Relational Basis of Unity
We affirm that the unity of the Spirit already belongs to those who have received the Spirit of Christ. It is therefore a present spiritual reality, which can only be manifested and maintained through brotherly relationships of humility and love. The relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the ground and demonstration of this.
We deny that biblical unity is organizational, institutional, or hierarchical. It does not occur through denominational unions or institutional alliances.
Elders of the City – Plural Servant Leadership
We affirm the plurality of elders (as an identifiable functioning leadership team) for a city. With a diversity of ministries, graces, and measures (some fellow-elders being apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers) they serve co-equally in a collegiate style of leadership as shepherds and examples of the flock knowing they will give an account to the Chief-Shepherd on the Day of Christ. They are divinely called, biblically qualified (as to character and gift), and apostolically appointed. Their measure of grace for city eldership will have been proven through an evident commitment to the whole, not the part, to the larger body of Christ and His kingdom in that city. They will be free of denominational and sectarian loyalties. They will be appointed under the presidency of the Holy Spirit through prophecy and the laying on of hands on the basis of divine calling, character, and a process of relational-functional emergence in the citywide sphere. This will not necessarily occur through a democratic process or on a representational basis. The sole consideration apart from character is divine call and the consequent measure of grace for the citywide sphere. It is recognised that only a small minority of congregational and ministry leaders of a city will have this call. This is not an issue of ‘lesser or greater’, but of ‘division of labour’ according to the will of God.
We affirm the principle of ‘first among equals’. According to spiritual seasons and specific needs at any given time we believe that God may raise up, under the presidency of the Spirit and the confirming counsel of the elders, a particular gifting and ministry to provide a facilitating lead role. There is no permanent office or title for this fluid role. Christ alone is the head of the church.
We affirm the division of larger metropolitan cities into zones or sub-cities according to civil boundaries and jurisdictions. The overseers of these zones will relate and function as described above, but as a part of the whole relating into the elders of the larger metropolitan city. Each zone may (or may not) have an elder/overseer sitting on the wider metropolitan eldership depending on divine call and gifting.
We affirm the distinction between organisational authority and spiritual authority. The former is positional and imposed from above based on power, the latter is relational and received from below based on love. The authority of citywide elders is purely spiritual.
We affirm the relationship between elders and apostles. While elders are free to accept or reject apostolic personnel or policy they will normally discharge their responsibilities in partnership with the fatherly support, counsel, and direction of apostles (whether local or from outside).
We affirm the relationship between elders and deacons. The city-church diaconate serves, in cooperation with the apostles and elders, primarily but not exclusively in the administration of the ‘naturals’. This will be multi-faceted, including finance, care of the poor, networking, and communication. The elders, on the other hand, will steward the ‘spirituals’. They serve as faithful shepherds feeding and overseeing the flock through their various spiritual giftings.
We deny any place for overbearing, coercive, abusive, or hierarchical authority; and the interposition of any mediatorial office or class of person between Christ and the congregation.