Contemporary evangelical theology and missionary practice of the urban church are sorely in need of a solid theology of place. The author looks to the biblical narrative for guidance, and finds a pilgrim church called out and sent back to the world on God’s mission as redemptive agents to specific places and concrete contexts.
Many individuals and groups are asking how to get a ministry cluster going. This case study will offer a step-by-step approach, with this proviso: This is a basic template, not a blueprint. There is no need to copy this in total. Each cluster will have its own unique character, or DNA. Yet, what you will read here is a common methodology that appears to be working.
How does the Western Church proclaim the gospel to a post-Christian world that does not care about its message? The Church must speak with confidence the authority of Christian scripture, despite the temptation for scriptural relativism. As an alternative to the idolatrous individualism perpetuated in the West, the Church must provide a visible testimony of authentic community. And the Church must adopt a missional identity in which every church member is recognized as an agent of gospel mission. The world is changing, but the Church can make a difference with a renewed, gospel-centered heart.
“Theological hospitality”–the practice of welcoming other Christians whose understanding of scripture and theology may seem strange or challenging–is a way for the church to pursue unity among theological diversity. Instead of an “us versus them” mentality, the church should expand its “gene pool” of theology, culture, and ethnicity. While it is not a strategy of theological minimalism or compromise, practicing theological hospitality reflects God’s heart to care for one another and avoids a combative style of orthodoxy.