Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ekklesia & The Missional Church

Something which has been stewing on my mind as of late is the whole idea of "ekklesia" being this "source of wisdom and good counsel for the wider society in which it is embedded" (ala Frost & Hirsch). I did lousy with 2 semester of Greek, but I do remember that along with the typical usage of "assembly" or "gathering of town folk," the biblical meaning could be taken literally. "Ek" - out from and to; "kaleo" - to call. Not only would this imply an organized [called] gathering, but in addition the implication that the assembly is composed of those who are "called out" and in a Christian sense "separate." Biblically, this would suggest that this particular assembly would be composed of those who are called by God, regenerated by the Spirit, justified by grace and now disciples of Jesus Christ. Having said that, "F & H" have more recently been using the quote "if [the church] were taken away from its neightborhood, would the whole community grieve its loss?" Nowadays, with this evangelical pendulum swing towards the social gospel, we are witnessing an evangelical Costco-sizec purchase of all things moralistic and community-oriented. Does the church of Jesus Christ serve the community for the sake of the community? OR does the church of Jesus Christ serve the community for the sake of Jesus? The missional concept - in some circles - is quite solid, however in other circles might we remember the impact of the "ekklesia" as recorded in Acts by Paul? For example, the "city within a city" called the church of Ephesus? Have we forgotten the riot that resulted with the presence of the gospel of Jesus Christ in that place? Or for that matter, Jesus' own teaching of faith as absolute surrender and loyalty to Him, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters — yes, even his own life — he cannot be my disciple" (Lk 14.26). Why does "missional" in some circles seem to forget that the church is the locus of missions (ala Leslie Newbigen) - it is the place where the redemptive power of Jesus Christ is declared and displayed (proclamation & demonstration of the gospel)? "Missional" is not just about turning the church into my highschool service club, it's got to be about Jesus and find its root/source in Him. Otherwise, close down your church and start a service club . . . becuase that's all you really are. Next we'll be counter-cultural, commune-living hippies . . . wait, that's already happened.

For the record, the Ephesians grieved the presence of the Christians in their city ~ especially the Ephesian temple-related business and artisans . . . they would've celebrated their departure. Talk about counter-cultural.

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