Beyond the Local Church: Special Forces

08 Nov

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“…planting churches never guarantees that a movement will result, but generating healthy movements will always result in new church expressions.” - Beyond the Local Church, pg. 80

There is no military in the world that would have doctors in their field hospital command the troops in the trenches. Different functions. Different calling. Different contributions to the overall mission of the army.

The same is true in the church. Why would we expect the people and structures which primarily care for and nurture others (pastors and teachers in the local church) to be in charge of the parts of the apparatus charged with taking new ground among those far from God (missionaries in apostolic structures)?

Let’s take the analogy one step further. Every army throughout history has had within it specialized, elite units: Caesar had his Praetorian Guard, the Persian’s the Immortals, the Aztec the Jaguars, Napoleon the Imperial Guard, and the British the Gurkhas.

The purpose of such special forces is quite different from the run-of-the mill ground troops that make up the bulk of any army. Such specialization is characteristic of almost any aspect of human organization. It’s a sociological reality.

Yet in the Protestant world there’s a common understanding of ministry that says only local churches are true, legitimate expression of the body of Christ. We might liken this to saying that an entire army needs to be made up of infantry grunts. Or, to be a bit more outrageous, that the military doctors should command the field troops.

When applied to the movement of Christianity, specialized troops – beyond the local church and not controlled by that local structure (or its pastors) – are essential. And apostolic people, teams, and structures – a.k.a. the green berets of the Christian movement – are necessities and not anomalies.

For a movement to be a movement, rather than a holding tank for sanctified people, requires the same kind of specialization and diversity.

Next week: Apostolic Structures - creating a place for people

Read more in Beyond the Local Church, CRM President Sam Metcalf's new book.
Purchase a copy here.