The following are our own personal summations of the 7 Essences of the Church as promoted by the Japan Cell-church Mission Network, one of the organizations we have the privilege of working with here in Japan.
Relationship: The church is not a building or an organization; it is a group of people called by God to carry out his mission. As such what ties us together and what demonstrates our faith is how we relate to one another.
Participation: The mission given to each Christian is to be actively living out the Kingdom of God in their world. This involves seeing all parts of life as spiritual and each person as a primary minister in the church.
Empowering: In order to see all Christians living out their faith, church leaders must see their primary responsibility not as teaching or leading the people but as empowering them to do ministry. Equipping and discipling, then, become tools in that task not ends unto themselves.
Focus on Jesus: The pastor and the elders are not the head of the church – Jesus is the head of the church. The church of Jesus Christ works by having everyone look to him for inspiration and live their lives by being lead by his Holy Spirit.
Outreach: The church does not exist to draw people to the Gospel message. It exists to take the Gospel message out to a lost and dying world. We must operate with a mentality of “go” rather than “come”.
Network: Although there are many local incarnations, there is only one Church. We are all together the body of Christ and we need each other. Part of being that body is working together to support and assist one another.
Adaptable Structures: The only way the church can multiply and meet the needs of the various communities where it serves is if its structures are simple, flexible, and only what is necessary. The more we focus on living out our mission rather than fulfilling and continuing some structure, the more effective we will be.