Thursday, June 30, 2011


As I read the blog scene today, I see much clear thinking dealing with the failures of Christendom, especially in the area of ecclesiology. As much as I applaud the writing of some in this area, I also have concerns regarding what appears to be a focus on one aspect,whilst overlooking others. The one aspect, which a group focuses on seems to vary. One group will focus on social action, another will focus on one or more of the "one anothers" of Scripture, others seem to have a fixation on a "warm and fuzzy feeling" kind of love.

Eric Carpenter wrote a good article entitled No Guarantee, in which he argues that the purpose of gathering “is the edification of the body in Christ to the glory of God”.

Whilst not disagreeing with Eric, I would ask the question,”Is it not the purpose of the Christian to glorify God in every aspect of his/her life?”

I was rather pleased to read Dave Black, as he entered an opinion on the matter when he says,

I do not disagree with this perspective. But it seems to me that the emphasis in Reformed circles on the glory of God is rather nebulous. In my opinion, this definition is neither missiologically broad enough nor theologically deep enough. As I understand Scripture, the church is to carry out the Missio Dei of the Triune God at both the micro (individual salvation) and macro (societal) levels, with a view to redemption, reconciliation, and social transformation. I recognize that many Christians today are starving for genuine koinonia and deeper relationships within the Body of Christ. Yet Jesus Christ defines His followers as those whom He has sent forth into the world. Thus, while it is good and proper to unpack the theological and ecclesiological significance of such texts as 1 Cor. 14:26, which speak of mutual edification as a goal whenever the church gathers, I think it is neither scriptural nor helpful to reduce our definition of "church" to the gathering. The ecclesiological challenge must drive us closer and closer to our original mission, not further away from it. An outward focus is critical, not optional.

That last small sentence encapsulates my concern about much of what I have observed regarding the newer expressions of gathering Christians, which have become very singular in their focus, often becoming insular mutual admiration societies, which pat themselves on the back for being so “Biblical”. Maybe I'm wrong, but what I see happening is simply a smaller expression of what has been going on for decades, and no different to denominations wearing their denomination labels and distinctions as badges of honor, and declaring themselves “Biblical” for doing so.

Dave Black further says,
The Book of Acts consistently emphasizes "missional hermeneutics," and is clear that the Gospel is the Holy Spirit's instrument for the formation of faithful witnessing communities that enjoy corporate life both together and scattered in the world. This same Spirit now works through believers to enable them to be Christ's witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. To be sure, "church" is broader than the missional church. But the focus of God is the world, not the church. Thus, while calls for mutual edification are valid (and sorely needed), it does not help to make the overcorrection of emphasizing corporate discipleship at the expense of Trinitarian mission. The only way Christ is presently incarnated to a lost world is through believers as they carry on His presence, His Word, and His works to a new generation. We are no longer citizens of this world but Christ's ambassadors, sent to this world from another kingdom, operating in His authority and power. If we're rightly connected to the Head in this way, it would be hard to imagine making the focus of the church the gathering rather than the going

It seems to me that if we are to be truly Biblical, whilst dealing with the very real problems of our ecclesiology, and its implications for the local assembly, we need to remember that we individual believers, are the only interface many have with the things of God.

So,in the light of what I've emphasised in Dave's last paragraph, I would ask another question, “Are we not stewards of God’s great grace, and will not God be equally glorified as we tell these people, in our Jerusalem, of His amazing grace in Jesus Christ, and on into Samaria, and to the end of the earth?”

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