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John Piper offers a clear, concise response about the biblical precedent for three church practices:

Let’s leave aside any specific person or website. I like Francis Chan a lot. I count him as a good friend. We have overlapped in lots of places and I like him, and I don’t want to pick on him at all. So I am just going to pose the very specific questions: 1) Should there be a salary for pastors? 2) Should preached sermons be a part of regular church services? 3) Should you do that weekly? Are those biblical concepts?

Often, when there is a divergence like this about what “church” really is (or is not), I think of Abraham Kuyper’s distinction between the “organic” qualities of church and the “institutional” qualities of church.1 Both are biblical. It is biblical to share meals in homes, to bring gospel witness to the marketplace, to seek the welfare of the larger community, to practically concern oneself with mercy and justice, etc. And it is biblical to appoint leaders, to baptize, to preach, to manage strategy and budget, to educate and ordain, to share in the Lord’s Supper, etc. The church’s full expression is found neither entirely within institutional Christian practice, nor entirely in organic Christian practice.


  1. Much more on this discussion in Center Church around page 240. “Organic” and “institutional” are, I believe, Keller’s terms and not Kuyper’s, but are meant to describe principle that Kuyper was getting at.