The Living Church- Chapter Three
In the next few weeks I’ll be posting on John Stott’s excellent new book: The Living Church. Stott is a writer, pastor, and teacher who is well worth reading.
This chapter is on Evangelism. Stott points out three types of evangelism: personal, mass, and local church, which he sees as the most ‘normal, natural, and productive.’ In order for the local church to follow through on its task it has to meet four conditions:
First, the church must understand itself. Stott begins with theology. Church today has two false images: a religious club that is status orientated and ingrown or a secular mission. Stott prefers a third option: a church that is called out of the world and sent back into it. He refers to this as a God given double identity.
Second, the church must orgainize itself. Structure must reflect theology and the double identity. There is plenty more here for the interested reader. Good stuff!
Third, the church must express itself. This is to be done through sharing the evangel, ‘the essence of the gospel is Jesus Christ himself.’ Stott see two poles to avoid in our day of pluralism. ‘Total fixity’ where the gospel is packaged like cheap soap, or ‘total fluidity’ when situations and contexts take control of the message. There is a place for preservation and being aware of the need to contextualize, but they must be in dialogue with each other and not opposed.
Fourth, the church must be itself. The church is, Stott notes, ‘God’s new society.’ The challenge
is to live like it and to be a sign of the inbreaking Kingdom of God . Church is to make the invisible
God visible through acts of transformed love.