Moving from Missional to Incarnational

we have baby jesus clothes

I have a friend who started a church in one of the most secularized regions of Virginia Beach.  He worked for a year to build relationships and friendships with people in his community.  Many of them were really wacky to the typical Sunday morning church people ways of thinking.  Some were Wiccans, some were addicted to drugs and alcohol, some were very sexually permissive, most were into all sorts of new age religions and spirituality.  They dressed and behaved what many of us might consider wacky.  If we saw these people at the grocery store, at Hardees, or on the street corner, we would whisper and snicker about them as they passed by.

My friend met them in coffee shop, lunch counters, and nearby pubs.  He didn’t push his faith.  He just was who he was and let them be who they were.  He grew to like them and love them and they grew to like him and love him too.  So when he announced that he wanted to bring folks together to sing a few songs and talk about Jesus, they were skeptical – but they kept enough of an open mind to listen to what he had to say.

About thirty people met in the first gathering.  In a few months, they size grew to the point where they needed a fairly large sized room.  The owner of a local bar agreed they could use his place on Sunday morning.  In fact, he’d been one of those attending.

This guy went to the denominational leaders of his tradition, told his story, and asked for some financial  support to pay a little rent and purchase Bibles.  Nobody in the group had ever even owned a Bible.  To make a long story short, the religious types rejected his request for help.  They did not like the location for the meeting and encouraged him to get those people to clean up their lives and go to an “established church.”

The guy and his new church got the support from many individuals – and now (praise God) there is a thriving, though rather wacky “church” meeting in that now former bar.   All that happened because one young preacher did just talk about God’s love and grace – he went out and put it into practice.  He went out and embraced those nobody else would embrace and told them that God liked, loved, accepted, included, and adopted them all by His grace.

He went beyond MISSIONAL thinking and engaged in INCARNATIONAL ministry. 

  He knew he was “the body of Christ.”

“deo semper maior”

Incarnational Ministry: The Presence of Christ in Church, Society, and Family: Essays in Honor of Ray S. Anderson
by: Christian D. Kettler
publisher: Wipf & Stock Pub, published: 2009-09-17
ASIN: 1608991393
EAN: 9781608991396
sales rank: 2639848
price: $14.95 (new), $38.62 (used)

How does the reality of the incarnation inform and shape the nature of Christian ministry? What is the church’s impact in the world when its members embody the powerfully redemptive presence of Christ-in personal as well as corporate witness?

These key questions are addresses in ‘Incarnational Ministry: The Presence of Christ in the Church, Society, and Family’-a volume honoring the significant contributions and personal witness of Ray S. Anderson to a theology of incarnational ministry. The essays explore three central themes: (1) the church’s nature and life as the ministry of the incarnate Savior; (2) the church in mission and service, witnessing to Christ’s solidarity with the world; (3) the church in ministry to families and as family to all of humanity.

The diverse voices in this volume harmonize in a shared passion for the church to engage in the “hard theological thinking and costly personal practice that should flow from its doctrine of the incarnation.”

Contributors: David Allen Hubbard, Thomas F. Torrance, Donald W. McCullough, Alasdair I. C. Heron, Christian D. Kettler, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, Colin E. Gunton, Alan E. Lewis, James B. Torrance, Todd H. Speidell, Willie J. Jennings, Adrio Koenig, John W. de Gruchy, William E. Pannell, Walter C. Wright, Jr, Dennis B. Guernsey, David E. Garland, Diana R. Garland, Lewis B. Smedes, Jack O. Balswick, Dawn Ward, Frances F. Hiebert, Paul G. Hiebert, Judith K. Balswick, Cameron Lee

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