the temptation to proclaim ourselves

One wonders if, in the contemporary ecclesiological consciousness, we are being tempted to simply proclaim ourselves as the church rather than Christ as Lord. (Halden at Inhabitio Dei)

Early in the life of this blog, I reflected a little on some temptations bound up with the current focus on church and community.

In light of this I want to take a second look at my series on how to become a church of irresistible influence. There, I invested quite a bit of energy in thinking through the task of building bridges — good will and meaningful connection — between local churches and their surrounding communities.

But did I trip over unintentionally and plunge head first into one of the chief temptations of community?

Have I invested so heavily in pointing out the benefits of Christian community in such a way that the church effectively appears as an end in itself rather than as anchored in and thoroughly dependent on its personal life-source and master, the Lord Jesus?

I think I still believe we need to invest in bridge-building, just like I still believe that the church has stack to offer the world — including a gracious, growing community. But the danger is that our attention can be (disastrously) diverted from what God has already done: He has built the unique and only reliable bridge into this dark world, lovingly giving His Son so that all who believe in Him may have life.

What I want to know is, how — without missing out on the very real gains of ‘the contemporary ecclesiological consciousness’ or underestimating the benefits and appeal of Christian community and behaviour which adorns the gospel — we resist the temptation of proclaiming ourselves…

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