Missional gospel and missional communities

I’ve always had a bit of a feeling of disquiet over the whole “Four Spiritual Laws” way of presenting the gospel, the ‘tractification’ of mission. It’s not that I don’t believe it, it’s that I’ve always felt it’s a cold, hard, reductionist version of an amazing story of relationship, community and redemption.

Is Your Gospel Robust? reflects on some thoughts from Scott Knight about how the gospel we preach is having an adverse impact on the church. He identifies eight weaknesses inherent in the 4 Spiritual Laws gospel and goes on to suggest a more robust explanation of the gospel based on the whole of God’s dealings with his people.
The post concludes, “This understanding of the gospel does not marginalize the church, but instead makes the community the heart of God’s work in the world.”

Matt Stone is looking at Attractional vs Missional services. His illusration makes the point perfectly, but in essence he suggests that rather than trying to make our worship services attractive to seekers we should make them reflect the inner mysteries of the church. Rather than services being the gateway to community (cells and the like) our engagement in wider community life should be the gateway to faith, expressed in the core of our church life.

It’s always struck me that the more seeker friendly a service is, the less it reflects the ‘otherness’ of worship and the initmacy of faith. Is the service the gateway to faith or is the community the gateway to faith?

As further food for thought, all of the young people who, as a result of our various minstries, have recently made very real steps of faith, have done so through the context of community.
For many years the SoundNation cafe in Prettygate drew young people to faith through the sense of community. Some became more intimately involved in local churches and then related back to the community through the cafe.
In Highwoods, a similar cafe provided the starting point for a group of three lads who later made decisions to be Christians, and then found a place in the worship life of a church.
And a lad from the local sixth form college who we have known for about a year, having met weekly in a local Starbucks with him and his friends, now seems to have found a spiritual home in a local church.

In all of these cases it was the encounter with Christians in some social setting (glimpes of community) that opened these young people to faith in Christ. Their involvement in the worship life of a church came later and seems to have meant all the more to them as a result.

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