Total Church 27: 2 Models of Success

This is part 27 of our series Total Church by Steve Timmis and Tim Chester. Blame and credit for these posts must be shared by the Wednesday morning Total Church reading group: No for these last few posts I am on my own… we finished up for the year before we got to these chapters.

“If we are to reach our cities and towns effectively with the gospel through church planting then we need a radically different model of success.” (p187)

Two Models of Success: glory versus the cross

The church is always tempted towards being a church of glory – whether that is in political influence, prestige, respectability, grand buildings, global structures, charismatic leadership or large churches.

But the ecclesiology (doctrine of the church) of Christ is an ecclesiology of the cross.  “That means power in weakness, wisdom in folly, and glory in shame.” (p195)

“It means we must put our energies into the church of the cross even if that means obscurity.” (p195)

The problem is this is so counter-cultural and counter-intuitive that we just do not believe it.  We believe God will use the impressive things (well the things that impress us at any rate) to do his work.

“We have to ditch our worldly notions of success… We need to turn our notions of success upside down so that we align them with God’s kingdom perspective.” (p195)

In the Parable of the Growing Seed (Mark 4:26-29) we are reminded that the kingdom is secret and it grows unseen.

And in the Parable of the Mustard Seed (Mark 4:30-32) we are reminded that the kingdom is now small in the eyes of the world but that one day it fill the earth.

To illustrate this they tell a story worth quoting in full:

“A Christian friend of mine was talking with a social worker in a poor area of London.  This social worker is a Marxist so he has no particular sympathy for Christianity.  My friend asked him whether the church made much of an impact in the community in which he worked.  The social worker said: “If you mean the public face of the church – its pronouncements, its projects and its initiatives – then the answer is a resounding no.  But if you took away all the kindnesses and neighbourly acts that Christians do – visiting the sick, shopping for the housebound and so on – then this community would fall apart.” (p196)

“The future of mission does not lie in grand strategies of meta-structures.  Christ is building his church, for the most part unseen, in the shape of thousands of small congregations.” (p196)

This is how I see church as operating most biblically and effectively.

But in order to keep this focus I think I have to make this chapter regular reading – because my desires are always to more, bigger, better – more impressive, bigger buildings, more profile, bigger, grander structures…


~ by John on February 10, 2009.

One Response to “Total Church 27: 2 Models of Success”

  1. Wow, John , not sure you remember me but this is a great site.
    Well, God says He will ransom a people from evey tongue and nation so it is only logical that the true church will be a new unified nation made out off people from all over the globe. Dude im out again but be blessed and keep on fighting the good fight.Fred

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