The Functional Church Blog

koinonia * kerygma * diakonia * marturia

Archive for June, 2010

The Church, the World, and the Kingdom of God

Posted by functionalchurch on 2010/06/25

My favourite theological motif is derived from the story of the Loving Father (also known as the Parable of the Prodigal Son). It is in fact a story about the world, which is synonymous with the family of God. The story is about a Father with two sons. One son wanders off in search of his own joy in life (but ends up realizing that true joy only lies in his father’s household). The other stays at home and faithfully works for his father (but ends up developing a non-loving attitude toward his sibling). The father is very interested in both the return of his “lost” son, as well as the proper attitude of this other son.

This is a picture of God and his relationship with the world. Some people of the world have wandered off in search for joy. Many return to God. Others are safe in the church but sometimes end up having a dim view of those who are not yet there.

It reminds me of something I read from David Fitch over at Reclaiming the Mission. He made a statement about in March 2010 that has stuck in my head. Here it is:

“There is no dividing line between the church & the world. The church may precede the world today, yet it is only living today what the world itself is ultimately called to in the future. The church in essence bleeds into the world ever calling it to its true destiny. As a foretaste of the renewal of all creation, the church cannot be discontinuous with creation. It cannot be discontinuous with the world because the church is in the process of becoming that very world renewed in Christ. Neither can it merely blend into the world for then all Mission & renewal is lost. Its presence will be in, among & for the world even as it will be distinct from the world. This is what it means to take on the incarnational nature of Christ. It is this very incarnational nature that requires the church to be a discerning community which at times both refuses conformity with the world while at other times joining in (with what God is already at work doing).”

This resonates a lot with me because it is where I see the church’s role in the world right now. We can’t transform something if we are not involved in it. Note that the very concept of transformation implies that there is not a wholesale accommodation to the world, just a participation in what God is doing to enact that transformation.

I just have a nagging question: What is the relationship between the church and the Kingdom of God? David points out that the church is a “foretaste of the renewal of all creation.” But if it is a “foretaste,” it can’t be the final product. In the following sentence we read, “the church is in the process of becoming that very world renewed in Christ.” Is it the church that is becoming the world renewed in Christ or is the renewed world the kingdom spoken of in Revelation 11:15 – “The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will rule as king forever and ever.”

I guess what it comes down to is this: Is it ok for me to work at building the church or should I instead work at building the kingdom? Or is to do one to do the other as well?

Posted in David Fitch, jesus, kingdom of god, missional, missions, parable, personal impact, transformation, truth-telling | Leave a Comment »

Welcome To The Functional Church Blog

Posted by functionalchurch on 2010/06/24

You may have noticed the new name for the blog. I decided that since most of what I was writing was related to the church and her functions as opposed to our family’s ministry it might be best to change the name to reflect that.

So what is meant by functional church?

A Functional Church goes beyond merely looking like a church; it is a church that does what it is intended to do.

Take for example a key. I can look at a key and know for sure that it is a key. Why? Because it has the marks of a key: a place to hold onto, a place that gets inserted into a lock, bumps and grooves (are these technical terms?), and perhaps a hole for attaching it to a keychain. If it has the marks of a key then it is really a key. But if I leave that key in my pocket and never use it for its intended purpose, then, even though it is really a key, it is not functional. I can even use a key as a paperweight, as a makeshift knife for opening the plastic wrap on CD cases, or even to scratch the silver stuff off a prepaid cellphone card so I can load my phone. But even though the key proves useful in these situations, it is still not being used for its intended purpose. So then, how do I make the key functional? By using it for it’s intended purpose, namely opening locks.

Initially we have identified four Marks of the Church and four Functions of the church. (We will start with these as a benchmark with the understanding that they may be changed, moved, or eliminated.)

Four Marks of the Church (what the church is while gathered): Worship, Word, Sacrament, & Governance.

Four Functions of the Church (what the church does while scattered): Community (Koinonia or Building God’s Kingdom), Proclamation (Kerygma), Truth-Telling (Marturia), & Service (Diakonia).

Of course this concept of Functional Church is a work in progress. I initially heard of it from the work of Dr. Augustine “Jun” Vencer, VP for Leadership Development at DAWN. Since then a team of us at South East Asian Theological Schools (SEATS) have been trying to distill this into local churches in South East Asia. We look forward to interacting with you on this as we develop this concept in a biblical and practical way.

Posted in church, ecclesiology, good news, marturia, service, truth-telling | Leave a Comment »