Equipping God's People to Create Missional Culture

The Test of a Missional Church

  Sun, Sun, Sun…Here It Comes 
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This next paragraph by Lesslie Newbigin, though short and concise is deep, rich and worth considerable reflection – especially for those of us who live in the West.   It first appeared in an article, "Evangelism in the City," written in 1987 for the Reformed Review.  I am taking this from Lesslie Newbigin – Missionary Theologian.

"How can this strange story of God made flesh, of a crucified Savior, of resurrection and new creation become credible for those whose entire mental training has conditioned them to believe that the real world is the world which can be satisfactorily explained and managed without the hypothesis of God? I know of only one clue to the answering of that question, only one real hermeneutic of the gospel:  a congregation which believes it."  – Lesslie Newbigin

A congregation that is growing in grace and is learning to embody the ministry of reconciliation, walk with God, follow the way of Jesus,  become peacemakers, fight for justice, immerse themselves in God’s story, who find healing and wholeness in community and are shaped the the sacred text is the kind of community that believes!

11 Responses to The Test of a Missional Church

  1. Adam says:

    Yes! That quotation is dense in meaning but right on target. Incarnational/missional living, starting at the individual level and forming into the community of God, is more convincing to anyone than a thousand apologetic arguments shot across the Internet like holy bullets.

  2. john sanitc says:

    JR, Newbigin is a favorite and his quote above speaks to the necessity of action alongside articulation of what we believe. Living the resurrection, enacting compassionate behaviour, thrusting through darkness with the hope of a new heaven and new earth is enchanting and desireable. Most (including me) just don’t know how to burst through these old wineskins to realize this Kingdom reality….

  3. Sivin says:

    this is such an empowering quote for a congregation! Thanks

  4. JR Woodward says:


    I appreciate your words a lot. I hear you man. It is a battle for me as well, and hopefully each of us are simple growing in the grace of God and learning to live more like Jesus. I love this passage from II Peter 1:3-9 where he says,

    “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

    For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.”

    I like how he says, if you possess these qualities in “increasing measure”, for it makes this life an upward journey, step by step. I, like you, am continuing to ask God to allow me “to burst through these old wineskins.” Thanks for your encouraging comment.


    Glad you enjoyed the quote, and yeah, it is an empowering one.

  5. john santic says:

    JR, thanks for the encouragement. Much of the uneasyness I have felt with respects to to the above arises from a recent experience reading Shane Claiborne’s book, Irresistable Revolution. Talk about someone who is imagining what Christian hope can look like. It’s one of those books that makes you think whether your life really does reflect the appropriate response towards God’s love.


  6. JR Woodward says:


    I have yet to read Shane’s book, so I am sure that after I read it I would feel much like you do. I know after researching the book of Mark and doing a long series on that book, that I felt and still feel half blind and fully challenged by Jesus’ life.

    Jesus never quite gets off the economic issues and I am still wrestling hard with all of that. And though since then I have made to trip to Kenya and built relationships with a group of 70 churches, brought famine relief from resources raised in our congregation a couple of times, grown at understanding the simple life, helped to start a foundation that gives micro-grants, loans and community grants, and helped to get churches in the west to partner with churches in developing countries, God is still speaking to me in this area of economic justice. I still have a long way to go before my life reflects the love that I know Jesus has for me, because his life was filled with such incredible suffering and servanthood that I find myself stumbling along the journey to try and imitate Him in these ways, as the Spirit gives me help. So yeah, I feel myself limping along in that way. Thanks for your honesty and encouragement as well.

  7. john santic says:

    May God continue empower you by His Spirit as you respond to grace with the actions of Jesus in this world. Thanks for your example…

  8. Tro & Tänk says:

    Lesslie Newbigin

    How can this strange story of God made flesh, of a crucified Savior, of resurrection and new creation become credible for those whose entire mental training has conditioned them to believe that the real world is the world which can be satisfactorily

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