Wednesday, February 07, 2007

glass empty?

I hear the idea that the Christian world- specifically evangelicals (include emergents)- is going to pot. There are those who wonder, "Can any good thing come out of those who don't think just like we do? Who don't have "church" like we have it? No. A resounding, "No!!!"

This opens up a host of issues I don't care to try to touch on here. What I'd like to look at briefly is the idea that God's work continues on. And God's work often neither looks "pretty" nor feels comfortable. Nor can we know with scientific precision how God is going to work out his will we see in Scripture. It can take on different looks and practices. Different ways of fulfilling God's revealed will in Jesus, as given to us from Scripture.

Just yesterday Scot McKnight had a quite interesting post outlining a huge, diverse (I believe), scattered, sprawling movement. Of people who are disenfranchised at least in their minds by "church". But who end up, perhaps, in the end, practicing more of a pure church.

This is really not a question between either seeing the glass half full or half empty among professing Christians and their practice as church. It's more like being open to the wind of the Spirit in finding ways to more faithfully live out our faith in following Jesus as those of the community of God in mission to the world.

I say to those engaged in this, "Keep at it." This is the kind of learning, as we have Scripture in hand and are seeking to do God's will as church, that can really make a difference in the world. This is what we need. This will help the rest of us in learning to do God's will as church, better.

What is your take on church more as missional community, which departs from traditional church in a number of significant ways? Does it have to be an either/or question? What about the Reformers saying that the church is to ever be reforming?


Anonymous said...

Church has been a difficult subject for me the past few years after I worked at a church and nearly had the life sucked out of me. YET, even as I struggled to know what the Lord's purpose for the church really is today, I continued to engage.

Interestingly, I don't feel like my church and I always "fit" one another as well as other churches I might be able to find in the city. Yet the Lord continually impresses on me the need to stay put.

Not even the gates of hell can prevail against the church, so I shouldn't try to either.

Good to think about, Ted.

Ted Gossard said...

Charity, I definitely identify with what you're saying here. There is no fellowship that doesn't have problems and weaknesses. I think it is part of the work of God for most of us, or at least many of us, to stay put and be faithful where we're at. After all, it's the Lord who makes the difference, as you point out. Thanks, Charity, for sharing that.

andre said...


This may be more than you were asking for but I'm not sure about defining the church as simply a missional community. Don't get me wrong, the church is by its very nature missional but it cannot be structurally defined only as such.

Let me explain - if you and I have a bible study at work with a goal of evangelism...if we go out of our way to create a context to relate and care for unbelievers... it's certainly missional...but it's not a church.

Structurally, among other things, a church needs a pastor called of God to care for its members.

That said, as always, I love your posts. It always provokes thinking. Great job, Ted!

Allan R. Bevere said...


I guess I don't have a thought at this point, but I am intrigued by your phrase "practice as church."

Ted Gossard said...

Andre, Thanks much.

I think my point here, on that, is that wherever we are, we're the church. In our gatherings. In our scatterings throughout community.

And we're missional in nature. Even if I'm witnessing to someone "one on one" at a coffee place, I do so as part of the church. It's who we are. Members of Christ's Body.

Though some would insist this is only true when we're together, when we come together as church. Christ does say (in the context of forgiving someone) where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there, in the midst of them. Some would insist that this is minimum for church. But I see "church" as who we are, and its missional at its heart, the Body of Christ in this world.

Something like that, though I could be off somewhere theologically, to be sure. Thanks.

Ted Gossard said...

Allan, "practice as church". By that I simply mean what we do as the church, as Christ's Body in the world. Probably akin to Paul's words (and the Word of God, of course): "You are light in the Lord. Live as children of light." We are the church. How do we live that out by what we're doing?


andre said...


I think your points are good and valid. Being intentional and missional is all really really good.

Just for clarification - only meant to emphasize that if we don't define the structure of the church as more than just two christians getting together - one may decide there is no need for pastoral oversight or community.

Grace to you