Posts filed under ‘catch the vision’

social exclusion, the church and proclaiming the gospel

Here's something to read: the Archbishop of York's letter to The Guardian, and an article by Fran Beckett about the Church and social exclusion. One of the things we're bad at as churches is blowing our own trumpets. Now, that's an obvious virtue. But what's the balance between blowing our own trumpets (hiss! boo!) and proclamation (hooray!)? We are in the business of proclaiming Good News. Good News in a Christian sense doesn't exist as some sort of free-floating message. It is Good News – Gospel – to a world governed by Bad News. It has to become incarnate, which means that it needs to take shape on the ground. The Good News about Jesus is not about escaping to heaven but about heaven coming down to earth. It is about our reality being transformed – our world becoming the kingdom of God.

There's a direct relationship, in other words, between our disciplehip of and faith in Jesus and our actions in the world – between proclamation and mission. To be a disciple of Jesus Christ is to be involved in God's story of salvation for the world. That is why we do what we do. We cannot neglect either aspect of it. The missiologist, David Bosch, distinguishes helpfully between evangelical dimension and evangelical intention. Not everything we do is explicitly aimed at calling people to faith in Christ (intention). But everything has an evangelical dimension because it is intimately connected to the story of God in Christ.

A vital part of mission is therefore always to make explicit the connection between what we do and our faith. The task of proclamation is to establish the congruence between our living and acting in the world in the light of the kingdom, on the one hand, and our faith that God has acted in Christ to save the world. That is when our actions to combat social exclusion, feed the hungry, clothe naked, comfort the suffering and liberate the oppressed truly become the Good News of Jesus Christ.


7 June, 2006 at 2:40 pm Leave a comment

Visions to avoid

Too many discussions of Emerging Church are still underpinned by a desire to be successful. If "success" means growth, then the hard facts are that most churches grow at the expense of others, because we are not so much conecting with people who have nothing to do with Christian faith as competing for a market share of people who are already Christians. Church as it is is getting to the point where we are exhausting the list of people "on the outside" who are interested in "joining" Church.

If the vision to be caught is of a Church that is simply more successful than before in wooing disaffected Christians, it's one we ought to avoid assiduously! There are enough churches presently catering for "already Christians". If we have a justifiable reason for existing beyond our existing shelf life, it must be because we are finding ways of connecting with the vast majority of those for whom the Gospel is clearly not Good News. When we create spaces for them to find faith and join the community of faith, we will find ourselves changing organically. That's when we start to become the Church of Tomorrow!

10 July, 2005 at 1:22 pm 17 comments

Time to move …

... to my own hosted site on See you there.

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