Last year, the Barna Group released a study, The Most Post-Christan Cities in America. Believing that the level of irreligion in America can be measured by more than simply asking people to label themselves, the Barna Group identified and tracked 15 metrics related to faith, which speak to the lack of Christian identity, belief and practice. My city, Pittsburgh, was ranked as the 37nd most post-Christian city in the US.
In light of the changing landscape of American religious belief and practice, I have been reflecting upon a question that missiologist Lesslie Newbiggin raised 35 years ago, “How is it possible for the church to truly represent the reign of God in the world today?” In his book, The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society, Newbiggin identifies six marks that will be characteristic of a church on mission with God in the world today:
1. It practices corporate praise, thanksgiving, gratitude, and grace
2. It declares truth that challenges the reigning plausibility structure
3. It establishes relationships within a local neighborhood
4. It encourages mutual service in the priesthood of all believers
5. It expects mutual responsibility rather than individualism
6. It nurtures hope and a re-imagined vision of the future
This morning we began a new series, “Marks of a Missional Community” and over the next six weeks, we will be exploring these marks. During our gathering we framed things by exploring 1 Peter 2:4-10, a text in which, Peter describes the church in dynamic, relational terms :
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10)
How is your faith community living into this reality? Which of Newbiggin’s marks are most evident in your church? Which ones most absence? What marks would you add to his list?
Here is our complete worship flow:
- Your Love Never Fails (Chris McClarney)
- Mighty Fortress (Aaron Shust)
- The Apostles Creed
- Rock of Ages (Paul Baloche)
- Dwelling in the Word : Acts 2:36-47
- Center (Charlie Hall)
- Announcement and Offering
- Message (Marks of a Missional Community)
- We Could Change the World (Matt Redman)
- Benediction: Jude 24-25
You can learn what other communities of faith experienced this weekend in worship at The Worship Community.