By and large I think may forms of church that are emerging, in trying to engage in missional practices, can end up concealing the difference between church and the world. After all if we want to engage in mission, and the church has gotten in the way of that, it's easier to move the church out of the way.
Or as I have put it before in other posts, when we move from seeing church as everything, seperate from the world, and try to take mission outside of the church into the world, we can end up with church as nothing and the world as everything. We end up 'post-church', a phrase that always sends a chill down my spine.
Yet without the church there never would have been any mission, and without mission there would have been no church. I fear that the post-church nature of many discussions, and convictions means that we will readily call ourselves missional, and missionaries, with a lack of a community of reference, a real body of real people, who form around that mission, and extend that mission. In other words we can become missional individuals, subsumed into the world or our own new forms of individualistic christian subculture.
More than ever we need a robust apologetic and theology for church, an understanding of how church is related to Kingdom mission, and the world. But where do we begin, do we invent our own? Inventing our own, or not articulating one seems to be the source of our problems. So maybe we need to look to church history and the theology of church already there for some guidance.
In trying to explore what this might be, I have been helped by James Wm.McClendon, Jr. who suggested we explore a baptist vision for church. I know I'm late to the anabaptist party, and Stuart Murray-Williams and others have been here for some time.
So trying to dig a little deeper, I have just bought 'Free Church | Free State' by Nigel Wright. I't looks superb, and I'll blog more as I explore it over the next few months.
Mean time, Mc Clendon Suggests that a Baptist theology and vision for church can be summarised as:
1. Biblicism: Not the narrow theories of inerancy, but the acceptance that the bible is a supreme authority for faith and practice in church communities. 2. Liberty: The notion of intentional community without intervention from the State or other Powers. 3. Discipleship: That all Christians and not just a few should live lifes transformed into service for Jesus. 4. Community: Community is not the privilege of God's chosen special people, but the sharing together of storied lives, in service of others, and each other, celebrated around the Lord's supper. 5. Mission: Not the colonising of history and locations, but the responsibility to share Jesus with others, and embrace the suffering that comes with that.