A pattern for Christian mission that comes from reflection on the history of the Christian church and the social reality of the 21st Century, 6 Radical Decisions contains a small group study guide and is directly aimed at churches and individuals who want to explore what it means to effectively engage the community outside the walls of the church.
6 Radical Decisions starts with a dilemma: “If the Christian church is called to partner with the God of the universe in bringing his Kingdom to earth, as it is in heaven, and the world is roughly one third Christian, why isn’t the world looking very changed?”
This book acknowledges that many of the worst moments in the history of the world have had at least tacit involvement of the Christian church, but it chooses to focus on moments in church history where God has clearly used his people to bring make his Kingdom visible and to remarkably change the world. Matt Garvin, explores the lives of many heroes of the faith, and in reflecting on his own experience, concludes that God has used the same kind of structure over and over again throughout the history of the church, and that if we can re-discover the 6 Radical decisions that were at their foundation, then a seismic shift will happen in the way the body of Christ engages with the world.
The first chapter of the book titled, “The other structure of the body of Christ” explores the proposal of Missiologist, Ralph Winter, that God has used two structures throughout the history of the Christian church to do his work in the world. The first structure is the local congregation and the second structure, the missionary band. The local congregation is the aspect of “church” most readily identified by the majority of Christians. The missionary bands, which Matt Garvin calls “Kingdom Cells,” emerge from a “second decision” by Christians who are already committed to a congregation, to a further commitment to a specific mission.
Matt Garvin quotes John Howard Yoder, who believes that the church is waiting for the “Reformation that has yet to happen” which will be about the discovery that every member of the body of Christ has a ministry. As Christians are empowered to discover their ministry outside the context of the congregational church and in the context of their communities or work-places, Kingdom Cells provide the necessary infrastructure to allow them be effective. Further, they are an answer to Sacred-Secular divide, deplored by Mark Greene, of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.
Matt Garvin’s exploration of church history and his experience over 20 years of ministry, has led him to suggest that the Kingdom of God is built by a movement of people who are distinctive within their local communities and who have made 6 radical decisions the foundation of their lives.
Decision 1: Their relationship with Jesus is their main anchor point and the source of their motivation.
Decision 2: They have a mission that they are clearly working towards most days of their life. Sometimes that mission will be grand, sometimes it will be simple, but in all cases it will change the world.
Decision 3: They value fellowship deeply and will tell you about the people whose friendship has helped them hold the course.
Decision 4: They are open and welcoming of new people and are fascinated by how different we all are. They will usually be able to tell you stories of fascinating people they have met, and many of those will not be the people society regards as rich or famous.
Decision 5: They are genuinely excited when other people make gains in the Kingdom of God, and will tell you about those they have helped along the way with a sense of pride.
Decision 6: They will readily recount numerous times when they came close to giving up, but their commitment meant that they held on.
So, in summary, the 6 Radical Decisions are:
- The decision that Jesus is Lord
- The decision to accept a mission
- The decision to be in fellowship
- The decision to be hospitable
- The decision to empower
- The decision to commit
The book is an exploration of these 6 decisions and what it means to take them seriously.
In his endorsement of the book, Rev. Peter Corney O.A.M., wrote “Matt Garvin has produced a challenging and very useful book. He has unerringly aimed at the core of Christian discipleship and effective mission and pointed a way to their renewal. If we could once more harness the power of ‘Kingdom Cells’ Christians would find themselves as a cutting edge movement again.”
The book includes a small group discussion guide and a link to a web page which contains resources for those who want to further explore the themes of the book or start a Kingdom Cell themselves. The website also has resources for churches who want to use the book as a basis for their small group work over a period of 6 weeks.
As National Team Leader of Fusion U.K., Rich Wilson says, “‘6 Radical Decisions’ lays out a vision that can be lived out. It joins the dots of aspiration and engagement and puts a spring in the step of the Church.”