Friday, September 11, 2009

The Suburban Captivity of the Churches - 7

The central concern is ministry and mission: in metropolitan terms today, this means participation in the whole and breaking through the mosaic of insulated enclaves which shatter the public life of the metropolis. This is the only valid criterion for testing any reformation in Protestantism; its formative power will be tested by its assumption of responsibility for the whole.

Church planning, which has emerged in recent decades as a way of allocating new missions in efficient and co-operative ways, has been extremely useful as far as it has gone. Unfortunately, church planning has been preoccupied with extending the organization church in suburban and satellite areas.

Church planning, however, will fulfill its promise only when it regards participation in the whole metropolitan area as its essential principle, its first task is the breakthrough of insulated enclaves within Protestant religious life.

The metropolis is a mission field not because there are unchurched people but because there is no public ministry. By treating the metropolis as a Christian culture in need of supplementary church construction on the periphery, we are seeking to escape from the missionary task.

Missionary strategy must concern itself with the whole. In other other way can it adequately express the Gospel of God's reconciling work for man.

This analysis has offered up incontrovertible evidence that the metropolis is a religiously broken, fragmented cluster of insular pockets estranged from one another. Its religious life is split through the middle by the schism - a truly satanic division - and its religious organization upholds social class identities rather than the universal identity of those who are interdependent in Christ.

We have, in fact, the strategy of an established church in a missionary situation.

The church proclaims a universal identity largely by involving its membership in experiences of obligation toward other people in the congregation. For many people today, church membership means the opportunity to see the same people they meet at Kiwanis or the country club.

The church will guide the metropolitan community toward the meaning of community when church members transcend the social, racial, and economic barriers that inhibit communication.

These members may represent different local fellowships, since housing in the metropolis is more and more confined in particular neighborhoods to single social class levels, and no local fellowship can be all-inclusive. Their church membership, nevertheless, will be proof of their determination to disregard social barriers; it will mean willingness to assume responsibility for financial and personal ministry in areas of radically different social and cultural background.

The church communicates essentially by what it is rather than what it says.
The Church speaks, as does Her Lord, from the reality of Her life rather than the imagination of Her heart.

~ The Suburban Captivity of the Churches, Gibson Winter, 1962, Chapter 7 "The Renewal of the Metropolis", pgs 202-204

No comments: