One Key Quote
“As a church, we dream, we pray and we build. This is the task of the worldwide community of Jesus followers, living to extend God’s kingdom and serve his purposes in the world. We are a people of worship, community and mission, shaped by the past, living in the moment and building towards the future. We are anchored in a story and live out that story in the world. It is messy and chaotic, but beautiful and glorious. It’s the local church, Christ’s bride and God’s kingdom army.”p.232
Chapter 17: The Church as the Kingdom Army. The story of Pentecost is the story of Jesus inviting his players onto the pitch and empowering them with the Holy Spirit to participate.Here the promise of Ezekiel 37 is fulfilled as a new community, an army, is formed. The church is the ‘called-out ones’ – like an army summoned by its Lord, to extend his kingdom. We are made for community and to come close to Jesus is to come close to his body, a diverse body of people all over the globe. It is such diversity living in unity that is one of the greatest witnesses of the gospel to our world – seeing such community lived out. This is why it is so important to gather as local churches – when we stop gathering, we stop witnessing. The church is the primary agency of God’s kingdom. We must not give up on church despite her brokenness and chaos and complexity. The church must centre around the crucified and risen Jesus, surrendering to his lordship, abandoning our idols, and following him. We follow in his way when we live in the full Story of God so it affects the whole of our life. It also means living in the tension of the not yet and the now, able to embrace both pain and hope. We create an emotionally healthy community where pain can be transformed, safe enough to be healed but adventurous enough to grow. We then dream, pray and build as, anchored in God’s story. we live out that story.
Chapter 18: Disciples Shaped by the Story of God. Any strategy for renewal, transformation and kingdom advance must be based on becoming more like Jesus and following the leading of the Spirit. We change the world by becoming like Jesus. So we must look at his model for discipleship and kingdom ministry. Rooted in the methods of training rabbis in his time, this discipleship was marked by three things – being with him, becoming like him and doing what he did. It must all start by being with him, by being friends of Jesus. It involves taking on his light yoke of a humble and gentle path following his rhythms of grace. It is not just about renewing our thinking but redirecting our desires, by imitation and practice, until his nature becomes our second nature. It also involves becoming intimately involved in Jesus’s kingdom work. Discipleship to Jesus is not just theological education, character formation, doing good or church growth. We learn disciplines of abstinence and engagement, of breathing out and breathing in, of emptying and filling. Then we imitate Jesus who entered into our world and embraced the cross to bring new life. We become courageous, compassionate and creative followers of this Jesus to both stand in culture and against culture in order to renew culture.
Chapter 19: From Revival to Awakening. We should care about the renewal of culture, but if our cities are going to be awakened then the church must be revived. Historically, this has happened when both church and culture are in crisis and many key leaders were facing their own wilderness. There is greater prayer and a longing for holiness and breakthrough. Could our time be one such threshold moment?
Reflect and Discuss
- Why does the glory of the church – diversity in unity – have to be lived out in local church?
- How can we make sure that the local church is safe enough for us to heal but also adventurous enough for us to grow?
- What might the marks of discipleship to Jesus – being with him, becoming like him and doing what he did – look like for you right now?
- What do you feel needs to happen in the church in our nation today of we are going to see a new awakening?
- Recommit yourself to being rooted in local church and find a way this week to give a renewed expression of that this week
- Spend some time just being with Jesus today
Read Chapters 20-21 this coming week. In them, Pete Hughes rethinks and reimagines hell and heaven. It will be the penultimate study in our guides on this book. Well done if you have made it this far. We are nearly finished!
There is a PDF version of this guide here.