Part 1: Informal Missionaries

Missional living sounds so cool.  “I am on mission for God”.  But what does it actually mean?  In one sense it is better seen that described, but the best description I have got of it comes from Tim Keller.

Tim Keller’s Center Church is full of great gems.  One of the best chapter is on Equipping People for Missional Living (Chapter 21) and I thought I would give my ‘summary’ (more like an expanded view) with my thoughts on the chapter over several blog posts.

The chapter opens with introduction of the idea of “Informal Missionaries”. 

“Not only the apostles (Acts 5:42) but every Christian (Acts 8:4) did evangelism – and they did so endlessly.  Passages such as Romans 15:14; Colossians 3:16; 1 Thessalonians 1:6-10; Hebrews 3:13; and 1 John 2:20, 27 indicate that every Christian was expected to evangelizse, follow up, nurture and teach people the word”.

The interesting thing about this is that Keller has taken passages that mainly point to “one another” and has addressed them to beyond the church.  Why not?  Love is what Christians are to do and the best way to love is through the Word, so why restrict this to only Christians.  This being said, how we do it to Christians will be different to non-followers of Jesus.

The rest of this section deals with an interaction with Michael Green’s book Evangelism in the Early Church.  The thesis, that Keller at least picks up, is that evangelism in the sub-apostolic period centered around the household.

While it is good to look at what happened in the early church, my objection here is that C1st-2nd households (oikos) are very different to households today.   In the early church households were made up of extended family and slaves.  These days households are made up of smaller units, sometimes related, sometimes housemates.  It’s not quite the same. 

If Keller’s point is that evangelism is to be taken outside the walls of the church as it was in the early church period, mainly because they had no church building then I am with him.  If it is that evangelism is best done in a community like situation like a household again I am agreed.  But if the point is that the central point of evangelism should still be the household, I am not sure that it works in Sydney culture. 

It certainly used to.  When I was growing up there was no social media.  Social groups were mainly around the people you were living nearby: I played with my neighbours.   These days things appear to be different.  We don’t have neighbours with kids the same age, in fact the neighbours on both side of our house struggle with English and this changes the relational dynamic.

So here are the take away points:

  • Ministry today is a lot like the C1st, we need to be taking the gospel beyond the church walls.
  • This means that the church needs to be working at equipping all members, not just professionals, to take the gospel out.
  • In the C1st the primary connecting point of the community was the oikos.  Today in C21st Sydney it is….?
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