Tuesdays are dinner and discussion nights for Austin City Life (let us know if you want to come), as we are intentionally trying to build ACL on gospel, community and mission. The second chapter in Total Church answers the question: “Why Community?” Timmis put community and mission together like this:
God is a missionary God and God’s primary missionary method is his covenant people. Humanity was made in the image o the triune God. The purpose of an image is to represent something and we represent God on earth. God made us as persons-in-community to be he vehicle through which he would reveal his glory…The attractive covenant community continues to be the means by which God fulfills his promise to Abraham. What has changed is the centre. Now it is the community itself among whom Christ promises to be present. The communtiy move out across the globe (centrifugal), all the time drawing people to its Lord through its common life (centripital).
Tim Chester and Steve Timmis of Crowded House have written a much needed book. Total Church: a radical reshaping around gospel and community (IVP, UK) cuts through the conservative and progressive views on church and community without taking the wearisome Emergent/Emerging debate head on. Instead, Total Church charts a course for the church that is gospel-centered, mission-centered, and community centered (One wonders just how may centers we can have!).
Part One lays a rich and accessible biblical-theological foundation addressing the questions: “What is community” and “What is the gospel?” I will be posting on this book throughout the week. Here is a summary of their description of gospel-centered:
Being gospel-centered has two dimensions. First, it means being word-centered because the gospel is a word. The gospel is good news. It is a message. It is a message that can be summarized in simple gospel outlines or even the three-word confession that ‘Jesus is Lord’. Yet it is a message that fills the entire Bible. It is the story of salvation from creation to new creation. It is a word that has become incarnate in Jesus Christ. It is this word that brings new life to people and shapes the life of the church.
Second, being gospel-centered means being mission-centered, for the gospel is a missionary word. The gospel is good news. It is a word to be proclaimed. You cannot be committed to the gospel without being committed to proclaiming that gospel.
Check out the brief article on the Lord’s Supper or Eucharist in “Digesting Christ”
After recovering from a 36 hour bug, I found little time left this week to prepare for Sunday’s sermon. As a result, I switched from the 2 Kings 5 passage to a more familiar one, Colossians 3.1-4. The sermon, Seek The Things Above, is about the relevance of Christian faith to justice, to participating in Christ’s righteous and redemptive reign. I explored the identity issues raised by “spiritual” people who appear to have things together, but neglect the issues of justice in their community, while also addressing the social activist, who identity is also misplaced in being socially active. Finally, we examined future glory as a motivation for present redemptive action.
The audio is here. The manuscript is here.