Biblical Frameworks

While the idea of a church structured to encourage its people to find their vocations and support them on that journey is not normal, it is also not new. From Genesis to Revelation the bible has been pointing in this direction all this time. This page will continue to explore the biblical implications of the next phase of the church.

Four years on and the 6 Radical Decisions still shape my life

The official book launch in August 2012

The official book launch in August 2012

As the Olympics approach I am reminded that it was this time four years ago that my book 6 Radical Decisions was launched in London.

The book was really an attempt to name what I was committed to after a few very disorientating years of trying to help Fusion hold together after my Dad, the founder, stepped down from leadership.

While I didn’t know that this would be my last time working as a Fusion leader, there was a deep grief that pervaded the background of my experience of 2012. It was increasingly becoming clear to Leeanne and I, that in order for Fusion to move forward, the son of the founder needed to step away from the organization.

For two decades I had felt as though I was doing something very important, shoulder to shoulder with people I loved. I believed in what I understood Fusion to be about and now, as I worked with these people one last time, I sensed that I was in a process of letting go.

The 18 months of conceiving, writing, editing, re-writing, re-editing and finally proofing the book had been important for me. As I was increasingly finding myself moving to the outside of Fusion, I found my commitment to the core things that originally drove Fusion unshaken. The book was my attempt to name those core things.

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Thinking whole nations and communities rather than just individuals

UnknownThe Bible is concerned with God’s reconciling action for whole peoples. The Old Testament focuses the journey of Israel as a whole people, chosen by God. This theme is specifically spelled out in Deuteronomy 7:6[1] and 14:2[2], but continues as the central story throughout the biblical narrative.

When Jesus gave the great commission, he commanded his followers to “go and make disciples of all nations”[3], rather than individuals. In Revelation 7:9 we are given the picture that at the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God, nations, tribes and peoples will still be distinctly recognizable.

National and cultural identity is not lost in the Kingdom of God, and as Christ’s ambassadors,[4] we need to not only understand what this means for individuals but also for whole nations and communities.

Just a quick thought...

 


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[1] “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.”

[2] “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be his treasured possession.”

[3] Matthew 28:19 (NIV)

[4] 2 Cor 5:20

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The answers we need now were written 1700 years ago

One of the remarkable things about Basil the Great is that we have so many of his writings, even though he lived 1700 years ago.

“With the exceptions of Cicero and St. Augustine, we probably know more about him than any ancient writer”.[1] Despite all this writing, most ordinary people have never heard of Basil, let alone read any of his work.

As I have been asserting. I think we need to rediscover this man who thought so deeply, but also lived his faith in a remarkable way.

It is this writing that helps us to understand that he was a deep thinker theologically, however it also gives us a window into the fact that as a theologian, “he did not write in a position of detached, ‘academic’ isolation. His words had real-world consequences. When he wrote, his typical purpose was not so much to persuade a neutral audience as to solidify connections he already had, or to establish new networks of friends and allies.”[2]

As Khodr writes, Basil “was truly a theologian, but his theology was not pure ‘theoria’; it was closely knit together with the needs of the flock he had been entrusted with to counsel, admonish, teach and protect from heresy.”[3]

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This is how theology must change

Whereas the main emphasis of the McGavran Church Growth paradigm was getting people to the Sunday service, the primary energy of the church in the dawning era will be shifted towards equipping His people for works of service.[1]

Following the model of Ephesians 4, local churches will identify and release those who are called as Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers into real leadership positions, which will probably mean that not all of the recognized church leadership will be in a full-time paid position. Unpaid team members will not be a supplement to the paid workers, but will be an integral part of church leadership.

This increased diversity of leadership gifting will be necessary as “one size fits all” ministry becomes a thing of the past, and each member of the church contends with the unique circumstances in which they are seeking to apprentice with Jesus.

Doctors, retailers, public servants, artists and full-time carers will need, in fellowship with others, a vision of the Kingdom of God that energizes and equips them and a relationship with Christ that directs and sustains them for the specific realities they face as they make intelligent, counter-cultural responses to the culture of the world, in the ways they think, talk and act in hospitals, shops, office complexes, art galleries and homes.

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This is what we need to understand if the church is to change.

A scripture passage often quoted by those in the missional church discussion is Ephesians 4; however, one of the underlying assumptions is that the task of the church leader is to help everyone in the congregation discover their role as Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, or Teacher. 

Author Alan Hirsch writes, “I would strongly argue that APEPT is in actual fact part of the DNA of all God’s people – in the very fabric of what it means to be ‘church.’ ”[1]

Hirsch’s reading of Ephesians 4 is sadly reductionist. It is true that this reading gives more options for people to find vocation than McGavran did, but it misses the fundamental point of the text: it’s not the gifts, but the job those gifts are to do: “to equip God’s people for works of service so that the whole body of Christ might be built up,” which will result in unity and maturity.[2] As Smith says:

Maturity is found when we resolve that we will be true to who we are called to be and resolve that we will not live by imitation of others, or by compliance or conformity to others’ ideals for us. If we have a sense of duty, it will be reflected in a resolve that we will be faithful to who we are and who we have been called to be.[3]

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Understanding Kingdom Cells

Mark Greene, the executive director of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity, wrote an essay called The Great Divide in which he argues that the church is failing in its mission. He says

“It is because of SSD (Sacred Secular Divide) that the vast majority of Christians feel that they do not get any significant support for their daily work from the teaching, preaching, prayer, worship, pastoral, group aspects of local church life. No support for how they spend 50 percent of their waking lives. As one teacher put it ‘I spend an hour a week teaching Sunday School and they haul me up in front of the church to pray for me. The rest of the week I’m a full time teacher and the church has never prayed for me. That says it all’.”[1]

Greene points out “Globally, 98% of Christians are neither envisioned nor equipped for mission in 95% of their waking lives. But just imagine if they were….”[2]

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