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The “Gathered” Church vs. the “Given” Church

“The Believers Church tradition…has been based on the concept of a ‘gathered’ church as opposed to a ‘given’ church.  Being gathered intends to be dynamic and voluntary, while being given speaks of the church as established and settled in its accumulated order, formalized wisdom, and standardized sacramental practices.  Being gathered highlights the responsiveness of faith in relation to the ongoing work of God’s gracious Spirit; being given easily degenerates into merely the inevitability of institutional legitimacy and dominance.”

–Barry Callen, Radical Christianity: The Believers Church Tradition in Christianity’s History and Future (Nappanee, IN: Evangel Publishing, 1999), 121.


  1. Bobby Grow wrote:


    now you’re starting to confuse me . . . I know, from past discussion, that you do not view the Church as the “gathered” model (i.e. a voluntary gathering) provides for; but then again isn’t this exactly where affirming an Ana-baptist trajectory situates you?

    In the past it seemed that you affirmed the “Given” model (i.e. Roman Catholic). But maybe you’re just being a good “Evangelical” (or better “Eclecticalical”) . . . and engaging in some synthesis between the two. I don’t know?

    Friday, November 16, 2007 at 3:33 pm | Permalink
  2. Halden wrote:

    I’m just trying to explore all the ecclesial questions thoroughly, Bobby. I do tend to favor the “gathering” model which is more congregational. But no model is without its problems.

    Friday, November 16, 2007 at 4:02 pm | Permalink
  3. Bobby Grow wrote:

    I agree, and as you probably know, I too favor the “gathering” model. I know you aren’t the type to leave any stone un-turned . . . that’s why I appreciate you (besides the fact that you’re my brother in Christ–and that’s a “given” esp. if you’re a universalist ;~) . . . sorry had to).

    Friday, November 16, 2007 at 4:34 pm | Permalink
  4. Hill wrote:

    Halden is in full contrarian gadfly mode ;)

    Friday, November 16, 2007 at 4:40 pm | Permalink
  5. Halden wrote:

    I trust you mean gadfly in only the most non-pejorative sense? : )

    Friday, November 16, 2007 at 4:44 pm | Permalink
  6. Hill wrote:

    Only in the sense that I would describe myself as being in contrarian gadfly mode for at least 50% of my waking hours.

    Friday, November 16, 2007 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

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