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Empirical Indicators, pt 3

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : December 6, 2004

On to number 3 of the Empirical Indicators of a Missional Church (my comments in red)…

3. The Bible is normative in this church’s
life.


What it looks like: The church is reading
the Bible together to learn what it can learn no where else - God’s good
and gracious intent for all creation, the salvation mystery, and the identity
and purpose of life together.

I think the key word here is "together." This is a fine notion–and I agree that it is vital–but how does a community read Scripture together?  This poses conceptual, logistical, and ecclesiological difficulties?  This is a BIG reason, to me, why we ought to have house churches.  Bible studies aren’t enough, since they exist primarily for edification and education.  A house church allows you to study the Bible together, learning what to do, and then allows you to collectively work out the implications…together…as an outworking of your collective understanding of Scripture.

There are two commonly held expectations: that we will seek to know the
Scriptures, and that we will seek to become obedient to the Word which
is revealed in the Scriptures. Listening, reading, studying, and obeying
the Bible is integral to all of church life, including its worship, spirituality,
service, education, stewardship, and witness. The Bible is engaged communally.
The overarching approach to Scripture study in the body is not solely ‘personal
devotion’ or merely ‘moral guidance,’ but is characterized by the question,
‘What is the text saying to the church which is attempting to be faithful
today?’ ‘How does the biblical word prepare God’s people for their mission
in this particular place?’

The words above in bold (emphasis mine) is such an important hermeneutical question.  But how often do people really engage Scripture like this?  Evangelicals have become experts at reductionism–boiling down Scripture to a "message" and then allowing raw pragmatism (at worst) or a chastized pragmatism (at best) to perform the function that the Holy Spirit ought to perform in concert with the Bible and God’s people.

  •  The community gives visible evidence that its
    life, work, witness, and worship are influenced and shaped by what the

    community is learning together from Scripture’s revelation of God’s claim
    upon its life.

  •  The community has established processes through
    which it reflects critically on its hearing of the Gospel, and its obedience
    to the Gospel’s imperatives, in order to become a more faithful disciple
    community.
  •  The community is becoming "bilingual" as it learns
    how to translate the biblical message into the language and experience
    of its immediate context.
  • for further reading . . .

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