church_gospel_culture.jpgOne of the most helpful books from the reading list in the previous post has been “The Church Between Gospel & Culture” edited by George Hunsberger and Craig Van Gelder. The book is a collection of twenty essays organized into four major categories, which include: “Focusing the Mission Question,” “Assessing Our Culture,” “Discerning the Gospel,” and “Defining the Church.” Authors include James Brownson, Inagrace Dietterich, Douglas John Hall, Alan Roxburgh, Wilbert Shenk, Paul Hiebert and several others.

In the essay titled “Up From the Grassroots: The Church in Transition”written by E. Dixon Junkin, the author argues that the church must once again recapture a sort of “church from below” mentality whereby communities of faith are easily birthed and are doing life rooted in a local context. While reading the following excerpt I was reminded of Neil Cole’s comment that we need to “raise the bar for what it means to be a disciple and lower the bar for what it means to be the church.” Junkin writes:

Instead of continuing to expend such energy trying to make outworn patterns of institutional life serve us, it seems appropriate to devote more attention to the task of creating new forms of common life that may, over time, allow a new consensus to emerge.

And it seems probably that the relearning of the meaning of Christian faith and life is most likely to occur in communities that are small enough to permit all their members to participate fully in the process of reflection, decision, and action.

One could probably describe such communities in many ways . . . let us imagine thousands of communities whose members in an intentional, disciplined fashion do the following six things:

1. Pray together.
2. Share their joys and struggles.
3. Study the context in which they find themselves.
4. Listen for God’s voice speaking through Scripture.
5. Seek to discern the obedience to which they are being called.
6. Engage in common ministry.