Communities of the Kingdom

It took them long enough but finally David Fitch and Geoff Holsclaw, in Prodigal Christianity: Ten Signposts into the Missional Frontier,  get round to the “church” as a signpost — #7 in their ten signposts. This is the best chapter so far.

Which reminds me that I am excited to be going today with Kris to Alexandria VA to be with the good folks at Missio Alliance, including David Fitch and Geoff Hosclaw.

Where is the church in your understanding of God’s mission in the world? Central, marginal, part of it?

They see a local church as a kingdom community, but this raises the problem so many have with the church today:

It is seen either as a place to which people go to get spiritual goods, including hearing the gospel, or

It is so decentralized that they see Christians as those who are “sacralizing” the world and “desacralizing” the church as they seek justice in all dimensions of life or as they focus on social transformation, and here they are pointing their finger at Brian McLaren. (By the way, this sacralizing/desacralizing, which they quote from Tony Jones, sounds very much like Gustav Gutiérrez’s classic Theology of Liberation.)

They pose these as spiritual gospel vs. kingdom gospel at times, though the authors then find “kingdom” closer to “church” as the chp moves along. Which is good, and right. They see the missional framework of Frost and Hirsch as better though the authors think Frost and Hirsch de-church too much.

“The church is mission” (104). Better yet, “The church is nothing if not local, incarnational communities practicing the kingdom” (104). [I want to ask, What is kingdom?]

Here is where they get into their Seven Church Practices:

1. Hospitality at the Table. The Lord’s Table is extended into community tables, wherever the Christian goes.

2. Proclamation of the gospel.

3. Reconciliation.

4. Being with people on the fringes.

5. Being with the children.

6. Fivefold ministry: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.

7. Kingdom prayer — the Lord’s Prayer.

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  • What is kingdom? At it’s most simple the answer has to be ‘the realm in which the King’s commands are obeyed’.

    So the entirety of heaven (however we define it) and every aspect of the lives of believers in which they are obedient. So church may or may not be part of the kingdom, it depends on our obedience. All of life may be part of the kingdom, depending again on my obedience and yours.

  • PJ

    Scot looking forward to hearing/seeing you this week @ Missio. I also want to comment that I love the Seven Church Practices. It is a beautiful snapshot of what could be.

  • Nate Wall

    Good stuff — wish I could attend Missio Alliance.

    It’s interesting that baptism doesn’t make their list of seven practices.


    To be faithful, 1 – 5 and 7 must be “owned” by each particpant. The gifts of number 6 must be seen for what they bring, and not be elevated above the myriad of gifts that exist throughout the community.

  • scotmcknight

    Nate, they don’t give it separate treatment but they mention it alongside the Lord’s Table.

  • Nate Wall

    Helpful, Scot. Sounds like the place the accent on churchly hospitality in baptism and eucharist.

  • The Kingdom is where God’s will is done (Your Kingdom come, Your will be done). Jesus is God’s will in perfection. So, where Jesus is, there is the Kingdom. Where is Jesus? In His church. The Church is the body of Christ. Jesus and his Church cannot be separated. And if they are, the Church ceases to be the Church. In answer to Scot’s question – I believe that the Church is central to God’s mission in the world – it is the designed and chosen instrument through which God’s Kingdom expands in this world.

  • DMH

    I believe the church is central to God’s mission, but that conviction causes me to dispair.