I presented a paper today on church planting and contemporary issues in mission, and in preperation, I was taking some time to read through what others have said about the local church. Lesslie Newbigin has a great quote:
“I have come to feel that the primary reality of which we have to take account in seeking for a Christian impact on public life is the Christian congregation. How is it possible that the gospel should be credible, that people should come to believe that the power which has the last word in human affairs is represented by a man hanging on a cross? I am suggesting that the only answer, the only hermeneutic of gospel, is a congregation of men and woman who believe it and live by it. I am, of course, not denying the importance of the many activities by which we seek to challenge public life with the gospel – evangelistic campaigns, distribution of Bibles and Christian literature, conferences, and even books such as this one. But I am saying that these are all secondary, and that they have power to accomplish their purpose only as they are rooted in and lead back to a believing community.” The Gospel in a Pluralist Society – 1989
This seems to me to be fairly in line with Paul’s thinking in Ephesians 3:10. I like Newbigin’s emphasis on ‘believing’ and ‘living’ – surely that means that this sort of congregation will be a Bible-centered congregation, because they need something to believe in. Secondly the congregation with be a congregation of praxis, because they live out what they believe.
Don’t you get the feeling sometimes that, in some sense, gospel ministry is frightfully simple?