The Church as Sent: Five Important Thoughts from David Bosch
I’ve been reading David Bosch’s book “Transforming Mission” for almost four years now. If you are familiar with the book, you will know why its taken me so long to get through it. It is essentially a summary of paradigm shifts in how mission has been understood throughout history. It’s widely respected and largely identified as one of the most important books in missional theology ever written. My friend John Chandler and I talk about this book being required reading in order to get your missional drivers license. In fact, Steve Taylor, author of The Out Bounds Church, writes here that “IMHO no-one should be allowed to talk about emerging church until they have read this book. It is such an essential missionary text.”
So, go get legitimate! Buy this book and start reading it.
Anyways, Bosch writes on page 376 that when we begin to gain an understanding of the church being “for the sake of the world” there are a few things to keep in mind.
The church should be aware of its provisional character.
The church is not the ground or the goal of mission but instead it is an instrument.
The church is not the kingdom of God but rather a credible sacrament.
This is helpful. There is a temptation to forget that the church is a sign of the kingdom of God. It is not the actual kingdom of God, but rather, something that witnesses to it.
The church’s missionary involvement suggests more than calling individuals into the church as a waiting room for the hereafter.
There is a convergence between liberating human beings and and people in history and also proclaiming the final coming of Gd’s reign. The people of God must be seen as part of world history. This is something that Karl Barth refers to “the people of God in world-occurrence.” I wrote about this topic a length in the mission section of my paper on Suburbia.
The Church is to be viewed pneumatologically, as “a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit” as movement of the Spirit toward the world en route to the future.
Somewhere, somehow I have heard that critique that churches that are known as missional don’t talk about the holy spirit enough. Maybe that’s because they haven’t read Bosch! You just can’t talk about being missional without understanding that the church is “a community of the Holy Spirit.”
If the church attempts to sever itself from involvement in the world and if its structures are such that they thwart any possibility of rendering a relevant service to the world, such structures have to be recognized as heretical.
He continues to write,
“The church’s offices, orders, and institutions should be organized in such a manner that they serve society and do not separate the believer from the historical. Its life and work are intimately bound up with God’s cosmic-historical plan for salvation of the world. We are called, therefore, to be “kingdom people”, not “church people.”
He then quotes Snyder (No, I don’t know what Snyder he’s quoting here. Sorry.),
“Kingdom people seek first the Kingdom of God and its justice; church people often put church work above concerns of justice, mercy and truth. Church people think about how to get people into the church; Kingdom people think about how to get the church into the world. Church people worry that the world might change the church; Kingdom people work to see the church change the world.”
Wow. That’s good stuff. May we all be Kingdom people.