After talking with Jeff Vanderstelt at the Total Church conference, I want to clarify something from my previous post. Tim Chester is most definitely Jesus-centered and nothing close to Emergent (community centered). He advocates both gospel-centered community AND community-centered gospel. The previous post simply pointed out that there can be a difference in expression and practice, depending on which way one leans. This is beginning to sound awfully esoteric, perhaps even confusing, so I’ll let it rest there.
Today Tim Chester did a biblical theology of the attractional church. Although it was pretty good biblical theology (i’d disagree with some of this interpretations of given texts, such as “kingdom of priests” as a missionary mandate), it was a bit long-winded. I came to Total Church with the hope of working through practical theology, missional ecclesiology, missional leadership development, etc. However, there have been some great take-aways peeping out at the end of the plenaries, Tim’s talk not excluded. I’ll blog on those later.
After disputing the false dichotomy between attractional and incarnational, Tim embarked on a biblical theology of mission. His contention was that a gospel-centered community is a community of people that attract the lost. While this is certainly sometimes the case, a gospel-centered community is also a community, no matter how kind, loving, and mercy-motivated, will receive rejection. Christ and his church are ultimately only effectually attractive to the elect. And what attracts unbelievers in a gospel-centered church is very different from what attracts unbelievers to an attractional church. And this raises an important distinction raised by Mike Gunn during the Q&A.:
Are we attracting people to a community that is gospel-centered (Tim Chester’s central point) or are we attracting them to the proclaimed Christ? This, is an important distinction, one that Tim was not willing to fully concede. Tim insisted that by attracting people to a community that is gospel-centered, people get to know and see the world of redemption, love, grace in a broken community. A rather optomistic read. Mike contended that the church is so broken that we should not try to attract people to a community first, but to Christ first, who is sufficient for our brokenness. Perhaps it’s two sides of the same coin, but which side do you want up? Heads or tails?
I landed in San Diego yesterday with fellow planter Jacob Vanhorn. Last night we stayed with a sweet family that is on staff at Kaleo church, the Petersons.
The Total Church conference with Tim Chester starts in a couple of hours. For those that dont know, Total Church is a book that was written by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis of the Crowded House in the UK. The book is a rethinking of church around gospel-centered missional community. It’s so balanced that it probably won’t become immensely popular, which is unfortunate.
Other speakers include: Drew Goodmanson, David Fairchild, Mike Gunn, Caesar Kalinowski, and Mark Moore. All these guys really get missional ecclesiology really well. I look forward to learning from them and working on some longer range plans for Austin City Life while I am here.
He also notes that Matt Chandler is now blogging.