What I See

Looking around at the body of Christ, I see the average jane and average joe coming to a greater understanding of ministry. They see the role that they play as ambassadors of the gospel within the ordinary moments of their lives. They pursue opportunities to interact with those who don’t yet know Jesus. They find opportunities to express His life and love to the people in their sphere of influence.

More people are realizing that they have a role to play as agents of the kingdom of God. They are taking up their responsibility as ministers, no longer expecting to leave it to the professionals.

At the same time, I see that the understanding and definition of the gospel is returning to the holistic message of the kingdom that Jesus gave us. Many have begun to question the gospel message that is limited to personal salvation only, viewed solely as an escape from eternal damnation.

We realize that salvation and the gospel of the kingdom is a message of redemption that includes but also surpasses a one-time decision. There is a greater revelation of God’s heart and desire to see the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.

Like the church and christians of the early days, these believers, with a renewed understanding of their identity as the church, have begun to spread the message of the gospel of the kingdom in a more grassroots and organic way.

They have been released to demonstrate the kingdom. They have taken the message of redemption and reconciliation out of the church building and into the streets and avenues of the world, bringing the kingdom into the lives of those who are outside the church.

This humble style of ministry has the potential for viral multiplication and expanding the peace of the kingdom in a much greater way. Millions of average believers are taking responsibility for their role in ministry, realizing that they are released to be an incarnational presence in their spheres of influence.

This is a time of transition within institutional churches. They are feeling the shaking that results as the hearts of their members are being turned. However, I truly believe it is a transition led by the Spirit of God, and that churches who are willing to cooperate and adapt will find themselves fully involved in what the Spirit is doing today. There is great potential for institutional churches to equip, facilitate, and release their members into missional expressions of participation in the kingdom of God.

Ultimately I see that God is releasing to the body a greater revelation of His love and His nature. I also see that the focus has shifted from the gospel of salvation with its expression in religious services to the gospel of the kingdom with an organic expression that encompasses all of life.

As the reality of the kingdom is spread by average believers expressing the love of God to the people around them, I envision a whole new understanding of the apostolic nature of Christ being awakened in the church.

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13 thoughts on “What I See

  1. Grace,
    I like what you see. Thanks for sharing this balanced perspective. It’s nice to read something positive about the church for a change. Isn’t she grand? (um, I’m not implying you usually write negative stuff. I meant all the negative stuff ‘out there’. You know what I mean).

  2. Very encouraging post.

    “Ultimately I see that God is releasing to the body a greater revelation of His love and His nature. I also see that the focus has shifted from the gospel of salvation with its expression in religious services to the gospel of the kingdom with an organic expression that encompasses all of life.”

    Ya, I think so too. It’s cool to see God doing this and to think about the ramifications for “viral multiplication.” It’s actually a very exciting time! :)

  3. You said “Many have begun to question the gospel message that is limited to personal salvation only, viewed solely as an escape from eternal damnation.”

    YES YES YES! I keep thinking why do we just focus on the Cross each Sunday, have our coffee, chat and go home. There is soooooo much more!

    You said “This humble style of ministry has the potential for viral multiplication and expanding the peace of the kingdom in a much greater way.”

    I totally agree. The kingdom of God is like yeast. That’s why blogging is so great – it is like yeast.

    This is a great post Grace – can you tell us how you see this showing up?

  4. It is very much like God to take the ‘average’ joe and use him/her for something great. To be fishermen for a bigger catch. It is those you least expect who will become pioneers for the future hope before us.

  5. Grace, yes, there is a great change happening now…great in the sense of wonderful and in the sense of significant amount.

    However, I am not as sanguine concerning the institutional church. I think by the very nature of institutions there are constraints that may prevent the institutional church from being organic and holistic in its approach . So, while in theory institutions have the potential to make a significant contribution, in practice the inherent nature of these institutions prevents them from actually doing so.

    If you have not seen it take a look at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life’s “The Religious Landscape of the United States”. The entire report is available on their website. It tends to confirm the trends seen by George Barna in his surveys. The erosion of the institution is growing and an increasing fragmentation of groups.

  6. Grace,

    Great post. I see it too. The Spirit is on the move and what will come is going to be good. It always is. What a great time to be alive.

    I feel like the institutional church and whatever this new thing is can be represented by two converging lines. One is on the decline and one is on the rise. I don’t think we know yet what the rising line is. I think a lot of people think they know, but I don’t think they know. I just see it happening, I see it being organic, like you said, and I see it being something that is simple, real and in line with the multiplicative nature of the kingdom. I’m just hanging out between the lines, making disciples, going to the nations and waiting on the convergence, which I believe will be a beautiful thing…

  7. dan and pete,
    Sometimes I get bogged down in the details, but the big picture is always lovely.

    sarah,
    I am interested in your perspective on the following post. I hope you will share your thoughts.

    ruth,
    Good comments and a difficult question. As you said, I think it will show up as the body being “yeastier”.

    I have some opinions –

    I think that many models of simple, organic church will continue to develop and change the landscape of what the church is. They will be outward focused and multiplying. Stagnant groups will dissolve.

    I believe, as I said in the post, that there will be institutional churches that grab hold of the changes that the spirit requires of the church today, and whether big or small, they will be strong and solid, focused on the kingdom. Those who don’t adapt will become part of the statistics of declining churches.

    I believe that missional orders may become a type of a hub or connecting point for simple churches and traditional churches, creating a place for greater unity and one-anothering among the churches in an area.

    I believe that due to the internet and blogging that networks will become more and more about relational connections and less about territory and ownership.

    And in all of this, I see believers growing in their understanding of the body of Christ and their role, and as a result, a greater releasing of the body into ministry in the world.

    sacred vapor,
    So true. And fortunately, there are so many average joes.

    traveller,
    I understand what you are saying. Perhaps my optimism is prejudiced because I don’t want anyone excluded. I still believe the potential is there. Of course there are choices to be made.

    Eric,
    I love the idea of hanging out between the lines waiting for the convergence.

  8. Grace, I am quite happy and eager for all to be included. The inclusion or exclusion is a choice made by the insitution/those in the institution. I think that is the underlying problem. The institutional expression seems to have a systemic flaw that prevents it from being organic, simple and truly missional.

    Indeed, if there is a reformation of the institution that brings it in line with what Father is doing I will truly rejoice.

  9. Grace, I come from a week filled with stuff, some good some bad. In a place personally that God must move to keep my head up.
    Had a conversation with a member who is upset with the denomination as he feels they have opened the way for homosexual ordination.
    My whole struggle with denom is we are bound by the rules. I wonder if ordination is biblically valid???/
    Love the thought of the kingdom becoming plain joes and janes. Work becoming service to the kingdom.
    Prophecy, well I think it is on the tip of most of our tongues and we don’t say it because we are fearful of what it means.
    Will post more on my blog so as to not full to much here. Am I going the same direction as you????
    WaynO

  10. Grace,

    I love this:

    I believe that missional orders may become a type of a hub or connecting point for simple churches and traditional churches, creating a place for greater unity and one-anothering among the churches in an area.

    …because it is exactly what part of the vision for CovenantClusters includes — a way to reconcile and reconnect rather than discard.

  11. I see a lot of the same things as you. It seems that the Church is going through a quiet upheaval that will change the landscape. I believe that the political influence that Christianity has enjoyed recently will wane and the places where the Gospel will have an effect will be those places behind the scenes and on the margins.

    It will be more important to be a follower of Jesus in our communities than to be a national leader. The institutional churches will either decline or decentralize their ministries.

    Since I am not a prophet or the son of a prophet, I could be wrong. But, this is how I see things shaking out.

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