Models of the Church:

In 1974, Fr Avery Dulles (now Cardinal Dulles) published his book Models of the Church in which he described 5 ways of understanding the Church. Later, after the publication of this book, he added a sixth model to this list:

  • Institution (including a hierarchy of ministries, to continue Christ’s mission, and reflecting a need for order, unity and consistency of teaching).
  • Mystical communion (including our mysterious and intimate spiritual union with God and each other through the Body of Christ).
  • Sacrament (including the responsibility to be, as sacraments are, the visible presence of God on earth).
  • Herald (including the mission of the People of God, the baptised, to proclaim God’s Word).
  • Servant (including dialogue with society and assisting persons in a variety of needs).
  • A Community of Disciples (including Catholics’ sense of always being learners, being formed by the scriptures, acting lovingly, sharing in Jesus’ mission and service, and being co-responsible for the Church’s mission and identity).


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