The Kingdom, Mission and the Emerging Church

One of the things that I love about my classes at Fuller are the reading lists.  You see, most classes have a set reading list of maybe 4 books.  These books are required for the whole class to read.  Professors, however, also have these fat reading lists, and we’re required to read a certain number of pages by the end of the quarter.  So I get to choose what it is I’ll read.  And so, over the past year, I have a read a whole slew of books on mission, the emerging church, the postmodernity and the church, and books on my own generation (millennial) and the church.  Truly fascinating stuff, and it has both affirmed a lot of where I think the church needs to be headed as well as challenged my traditional understanding of things.

I first began re-thinking my understanding of the gospel last fall.  You can read the post here.  I began to be convinced that the gospel is a whole lot more than the “Four Spiritual Laws” or the bridge diagram.  I began to believe that, while these methods may be helpful, when they stand alone they offer an incomplete gospel at best.

One of the books I have read in the last year is a book called “Emerging Churches,” written by Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger, two professor at Fuller (whom I have not yet taken a class with).  There is much food for thought in this text, and it is a very readable introduction (and maybe the best book out there, period) on the emerging church..  I wouldn’t consider myself part of that movement–I have plenty of critiques of it–but I find many of the values of the emerging church movement and the missional church movement (of which I do consider myself a part) overlap.

Gibbs and Bolger write this: “The idea of a kingdom focus instead of a church focus is a huge paradigm shift, one that does not come easy…The kingdom, or the reign of God, is about our life here and now, and is it is concerned not just with individual needs and aspirations but also with the well-being and mission of the community of Christ’s representatives.  It is directed beyond the present membership of the body of believers to encompass the world that Jesus came to save from the consequences of its rebellion by turning it in a radically different direction.  The gospel of emerging churches is not confined to personal salvation.  It is social transformation arising from the presence and permeation of the reign of Christ.  The gospel of the kingdom is prominent throughout the four Gospels.  Emerging churches are no longer satisfied with a reductionistic, individualized, and privatized message.”

I reached this point also last fall.  An individualized, privatized message doesn’t satisfy me any longer.  The Four Spiritual Laws is a fine introduction, but it only begins to tell the story.  The gospel is much bigger than a bridge that enables an individual to reach God!  God isn’t just about saving individual people (although He does care immensely about each one of us) but rather about redeeming the world.  He is redeeming people and nature and institutions.  It is a holistic gospel, and it involves far more than just us.  God is in the business of creating a new heaven and a new earth, one that is fully redeemed and full of His shalom.  To preach that Jesus died so that I can be whisked away to heaven after I die is, in comparison, so shallow!!  And God’s plan to bring redemption and shalom is so much bigger than that,


~ by Mike Seawright on September 2, 2008.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: