What are the irreducibly complex components of a church?

I have been trying to figure out what are the basic, fundamental elements (Irreducibly Complex) that must all be in place, working together at the same time, for a church to be considered a true, Biblical church.

William Dembski gives this definition of Irreducible Complexity:

“A system performing a given basic function is irreducibly complex if it includes a set of well-matched, mutually interacting, non-arbitrarily individuated parts such that each part in the set is indispensable to maintaining the system’s basic, and therefore original, function. The set of these indispensable parts is known as the irreducible core of the system.”

Here is my short list so far:

1. It must be confessional.

The whole counsel of God must be faithfully proclaimed by Biblically qualified and recognized leaders.

2. It must be missional.

It must endeavor to reach the lost and to serve others.

3. It must be communal.

It must facilitate real relationships and community that exist outside of the formal church meetings.

4. It must worship.

This includes much more than singing and administration of the sacraments. It includes viewing all of life as an act of worship and obedience to God. This means that the people are taught by the instruction and example of the leadership to live holy and separate lives.

If a church is not doing all of these things it is not a true church.

Some people have suggested that church discipline should be included in this list. While I agree that a Biblical church must be willing to exercise church discipline when it is necessary, it seems to me that many churches may go for long stretches without church discipline being a need, so I haven’t included it in my list of essentials, even though it must be used when needed.

Food for thought: If something is not really a true church, should you feel bad about leaving it?

Israel Wayne is an author and conference speaker. He is the Director of Family Renewal.