Missional Ecclesiology in the Book of Acts -- By: L. E. Brown
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Missional Ecclesiology in the Book of Acts
Intentional Interim Pastor
The Church1 in America faces a significant existential threat that will eventually sweep countless congregations into history’s dustbin.2 This threat is the result of two powerful currents: America’s transition from modern to postmodern culture and several serious flaws in Church Growth thinking.3 As a result the Church has been dismissed from its role as chaplain to the culture and Christians have been co-opted to such a degree
JOTGES 24:47 (Autumn 2011) p. 66
that they fail to see that they have been domesticated. Today the typical congregation offers little to justify its existence.4
Missiologists, theologians, and pastors have wrestled with these problems over the last thirty years, largely independent of one another. The emerging fruit of their collective work is a new paradigm that we shall refer to as the Missional Church [MC hereafter].5 Rooted in a careful critique of the theological and methodological foundations of the contemporary Church, it offers an alternative to the current but now fading Attractional Church paradigm [AC hereafter]. Missional thinking encourages pastors, church planters, and congregations to re-think congregational identity and re-design congregational life in light of God’s redemptive initiative.
This paper will describe both paradigms, identify key differences between them, and show that motifs of missional ecclesiology are seen in the Book of Acts. My purpose is not to prove the MC paradigm or disprove the AC paradigm but to introduce the MC paradigm, offer Biblical justification from the Book of Acts, and motivate others to consider it for themselves.
I do not approach these issues from a neutral position. My colleagues and I have seen the unintended and damaging consequences of the AC paradigm first hand.6 I have attempted to remain mindful of these experiences in writing this paper. The reader will determine whether the following analysis is measured and even-handed.
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II. The Attractional Church Paradigm
Many MC advocates use the term “Attractional Church” to refer to the dominant paradigm that has guided pas...
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