How is God at Work Outside the Church… If At All?

russian-church-afar.jpg I’m a week behind in the series now, but I hope to catch up. I really do have good intentions. Anyway, last week in the Missional Prelude series, the gang was talking about how God is at work outside of the church. As is the pattern, Ed Stetzer opened things up on Monday with the question: “How and Why is God at Work Outside the Church?” He then started namedropping, opening with “J.C. Hoekendijk,” who some may remember has been discussed in a prior series. Ed writes, “For Hoekendijk, the concept of shalom (a Hebrew word meaning peace, completeness, and welfare) was a more all-inclusive notion than salvation…. Salvation was broadened and, in some ways, redefined.”

Salvation in a Prologue to Missional Discussions

jesus-peace.jpg Ed Stetzer suggests that we can avoid the trouble that shipwrecked the missio dei movement in part “by going back and looking at the roots of the missional movement and having a robust theological discussion that heightens our awareness of the issues at hand.”

To this end, our synchro-series turns its attention first to the intersection of missiology and soteriology. One might expect this relationship to be “a given,” but perhaps for just this reason it bears a slightly closer inspection. In his intro-post on Monday, Ed notes that “some consider the transmission of salvation as a physical process” (sacramentalist) while “[o]thers think that salvation is transferred by moral action[, where] salvation is not so much something to be acquired by some individual or organization and conveyed to others, as it is something created by shifting the state of affairs.” Thirdly, he writes, “Evangelical theologies have generally represented a third idea: salvation is a work of grace, accomplished by Christ, and received by faith alone. In the meritorious sense, the recipient is passive.”

The Didache: on Living Together in Community

tonyjones_12.jpg Yesterday I posted an overview of the Didache to introduce what it is and where it came from, but essentially it’s an early Christian document from around the same time that the New Testament itself was still being written. “Didache” means “teaching”, and the document provides a compilation of (probably) oral tradition about what the apostles taught concerning community life. Today I’m blogging on Chapter 6 of Tony Jones‘ newest book, The Teaching of Twelve: Believing & Practicing the Primitive Christianity of the Ancient Didache Community. The Didache is not a long document, but it is instructive for the fact that it deals with practical community matters during a time of liminality when the church was just coming to birth. We ought to imagine that it will offer us insight for a time when the church is undergoing a rebirth.

Considering The Didache

didache.pdf Philotheos Bryennios was born in March of 1833 at Constantinople. He was educated at the Theological School in Chalce of the Great Church of Christ and the universities of Leipsic, Berlin, and Munich, and in 1861 became professor of ecclesiastical history, exegesis, and other studies at Chalce. He was appointed master and director at Chalce in 1863, though he soon resigned these two positions. In 1867 he was called to Constantinople to be the head of the “Great School of the Nation” in the Phanar, or Greek quarter of Constantinople. He remained there until 1875 when he was sent by the Most Holy Synod of metropolitans and patriarchs to the Old Catholic conference at Bonn, where he receved a patriarchal letter announcing his appointment as metropolitan of Serrae in Macedonia. In 1877 he was transferred to the metropolitan see of Nicodemia, and in 1880 went to Bucharest on behalf of the Eastern Orthodox Patriarchal and other independent churches to participate in a commission dealing with Greek monastaries that had been plundered in Moldavia and Wallachia. In 1882, at the instance of the Holy Synod of Metropolitans in Constantinople and the patriarch Joachim Il., he wrote a reply (published by the Holy Synod) to the encyclical letter of Pope Leo XIII concerning the Slavic apostles Cyrillus and Methodius. The man was no theological slouch, and despite this list of accomplishments, none of these are the thing for which he is most remembered following his death in 1914 or 1918.

Where are the Doors to the Church?

churchdoors.jpg In my previous post, I reflected briefly on a recent post by David Fitch about the Sunday morning gathering in the local church. He suggests that contrary to the position taken by some missional thinkers now, the Sunday gathering is not non-missional — or at least, it doesn’t have to be despite “the problem of the attractional inertia surrounding the Sunday morning worship gathering.”

A lot of this has to do with how we view the gathering in the first place. In introducing the subject, Fitch writes,

A recent visitor to our church’s Sunday morning gathering told me “we really enjoyed the service.” At which point I felt the urge to puke. I understand this is most often the nicest and best of things people can say to a pastor after a church worship gathering. Yet it belies the problem of Sunday morning worship in our day. Sunday morning worship is a spectacle,it too often distances us from God as a spectator event.

Renovation & Reconstruction: Ecclesiological Parallels

home-reno_wrong.jpg Getting the kids a Wii for Christmas seemed innocuous enough. This observation, of course, is filled with foreboding. Some friends recently purchased a 47″ flat-panel television and graciously gave us their old 32″ conventional television. It’s a nice RCA which required only the purchase of a remote. Naturally, this goes well with the Wii that the kids don’t yet know about… but they’ve already been using the big TV with the $20 unit we got them a few years ago to play Ms. Pac-Man, Rally-X, Galaga, and a few other classic arcade games. The plan was to finish up the basement rec room so the kids could play on the Wii or watch movies down there, leaving the main floor free and quiet for us in the evenings now that the kids are too old to bundle off to bed at 7:00PM.

Inverting the Leadership Pyramid


Vineet Nayar in a Harvard Business publication says It’s Time to Invert the Management Pyramid, which Ryan Bolger follows up by saying We Must Invert the Pastor Pyramid. I’m not really very big on chasing down business strategies to apply to the church, but it’s always striking to notice how all the really good organizational ideas that the churches adopt are ones which the business realm has had a grasp on for a decade or more. With this in mind, whether one takes the result as a prescription or not, it is instructive to take note when the business realm begins to find fault with their old organizational method and begins imagining or suggesting an alternative structure. The Harvard article states,

Here Comes Everybody: Thoughts on The Organization

shirkey_herecomeseverybody.jpg Bill Kinnon is entirely to blame, but at least this time it’s not a bad thing. So far he has recommended Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations on his blog a couple of times, and the same to me via email a couple of times, and now on the telephone the other day, he did it again. What could I do? Armed with a $30 gift certificate I’d gotten for my birthday, I headed down to McNally Robinson and paid full price, in person at a bricks-and-mortar retail establishment (remember those?) to nab the last copy on the shelf.


This is one fine book… I only just cracked it open last night and haven’t hit the 50-page mark yet, but listen to this: