I thought that this series on Social Design should try to integrate theory and application — or at least alternate between my typical up-in-the-clouds musings and something a little more practical and down-to-earth.
Which leads me to the question of how to apply what I’ve said about why Christian mission and ministry needs to work from the outside in.
What will outside-in ministry look like?
I have a few suggestions — adapted from the (strong) criticisms Mike W has levelled against a The Trellis and the Vine-style approach. Outside-in ministry:
- Takes seriously the call to disciple-making as an activity of the whole Christian community — or, perhaps better, as the outcome of the combination of its activities — rather than as an activity chiefly or soley engaged in by individuals.
- Is positive about systems and institutions as ways of relating to one another in dependence on Jesus and in response to his call to love, rather than disparaging them as ‘mere’ structures that are as likely to hinder relationships as to help them.
- Delights in the many and varied ways God gives his people to know, love, and serve the Lord Jesus, his church and his world in ways that both learn from past ways of doing it (tradition) and work hard to ‘translate’ it into contemporary contexts.
This, in broad brushstrokes, is my provisional ‘charter’ for outside-in ministry. Let’s try and add flesh to these bones — in conversation with one another — as we proceed through this series…