From the President: an inside look at Sam Metcalf’s new book, Beyond the Local Church
“The church in its apostolic missionary form is just as equally ‘church’ as the church in its local, parish form. God never designed or intended either to do the work of the other.” - Beyond the Local Church, pg. 28
I hear this occasionally from local church leaders: “If those of us in the church were doing what we are supposed to be doing, there would be no need for you missionary or parachurch people.”
This understanding falls short of God’s design for his people. It is inadequate, and an obstacle to the missionality that is desperately needed in the Church in the Western world.
The challenge of structure is a serious one. Historically, whenever the church in its local form and the church in its mobile/missionary form work cooperatively and interdependently, the Christian movement thrives and moves forward. When one structure dominates or believes it should control the other, the whole movement suffers.
In ministry, I have seen plenty of wonderful plans and stirring visions stuck in the doldrums because of no attention to structure.
If our intention is movements of Jesus’ gospel, it will mean embracing and using structures apart from and beyond the local church.
That’s because those local church expressions were never designed by God for what missionary structures do. It takes two eyes to see, two arms to hug, and two feet to run, just like it takes two structures for the Church to be whole.
Apostolic leaders thrive best in structures uniquely designed for the fulfillment of their calling, and these leaders must have access to such structures in order to reach their God-given potential. When pastoral or denominational leaders mistakenly assume that such apostolic structures have no validity or are subject to their control, everyone loses.
“Structure matters. Passion is never enough. Whenever we find movements resulting from people sold out to the mission of God and experiencing his sovereign, powerful presence, apostolic structure is always in the equation.” - Beyond the Local Church, pg. 170
Another way of saying this is: Apostolic vision without apostolic structure is only a dream.
Next week: The Missing Gifts of the Church - how to champion the lost gifts