We wanted to share some quotes with you from a book that has greatly impacted our day-to-day ministry in Taiwan. The title is: “The Tangible Kingdom: Creating Incarnational Community” by Matt Smay and Hugh Halter. Erich recently referenced it in a sermon he preached at Mt. Calvary church in Elizabethtown, along with its companion resource, the TK Primer. We trust that the following quotes are as inspiring and challenging to you, as they were to us. And feel free to engage on any of the quotes in the comments section (click on Read More at the very bottom).
“If Christianity was only about finding a group of people to live life with, who shared openly their search for God and allowed anyone, regardless of behavior, to seek too, and who collectively lived by faith to make the world a little more like Heaven, would you be interested?”
The world around us has changed and we didn’t change fast enough with it. The jump from modern to postmodern caught us on our heels.
Hundreds of thousands of Christians believe you can’t get into heaven without “praying the sinner’s prayer,” even though Jesus granted salvation to many without one reference to a person praying a prayer. Even post resurrection, there’s no precedence for praying a prayer as the ticket to eternity.
The ancient faith communities that set a course to change the history of the world did so without church programs, without paid staff, without Web sites, and without brochures, blogs, or buildings. They were lean! The point of going without all the stuff is simple but profound. When you don’t have all the “stuff,” you’re left with a lot of time to spend with people.
I also believe that the sermon has a role in encouraging our community. I just don’t think it’s any more important than other aspects.
The problem is that our present evangelical “Come to us” paradigm of church has not been an appropriate missiological response to the paradigms that exist in our world.
For the ancients, Christian community was unique, intriguing, and attractive primarily because it called for inclusion of all people.
The incarnational big-story gospel will require a place of discovery, where people will be able to see the truth before they hear about it. This place will not be a location but a community of people who are inclusive of everyone. These people will be making eternity attractive by how they live such selfless lives now, and will be modeling life in a New Kingdom in ways that will make it easy for other people to give it a try. People like this aren’t desperate to convert everyone; they are desperate to be like Christ and to be where Christ is. Their heartbeat to be transformed into the image of Christ, and to pray and work for little specks of transformation in everyone and everything they touch. Success is faithfulness. The rest is up to God.
When Jesus sent his disciples out to minister—whether it was casting out demons, going two by two into houses to give blessings, or feeding large groups—they still didn’t have clear or full faith.