As seen on Prodigal Kiwi Blog, the February 2005 Stimulus is on missional church, and has an article by Martin Sutherland online, The kingdom made visible: a missional theology of church (mirrored here). The article is quite, well, stimulating… simply quoting some snippets:

Indeed it is pretty clear that (historically, at least) most Christians have agreed on most of the core doctrines. There have been plenty of arguments over details, but rarely are these enough to cause division. Much more threatening to unity have been conflicts over authority and the nature and structure of the church.

Were Nietzsche and his postmodern descendants right to identify power as the greatest force, by which all claims to truth are compromised?

The Schism of 1054 was at its base ecclesiological. Who has the power? Who is in charge? Who makes decisions? Any cool look at the reformation and at subsequent divisions within Protestantism will recognise a similar story.

…far from something to be avoided because of its risks, ecclesiology brings us to the heart of the Gospel, to what it truly means to be missional church.

An ecclesiology which is primarily driven by the need to attract non-believers is doomed to fail. The church which shapes itself to the world in this way would properly be open to Nietzschean accusations of power seeking.

Though we are happy to point to the reign of God breaking out when good things happen, in the face of our failings we are understandably reluctant to claim such a role too absolutely. We have resorted to such escape clauses as the now and not yet of the kingdom. Yet, although kingdom life is not the church’s possession, it remains its only calling. A better acknowledgement would be that the kingdom is now and not seen . The missional church (and there is no other kind) exists to make the kingdom visible.

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