Posted by: michaelhanegan | October 17, 2008

The Incarnation and the Church’s Witness…

In this short little book Darrell Guder lays a fantastic foundation concerning the concept of witness and how it is influenced and in fact should be completely shaped by the reality of the Incarnation. The concepts in this short work are developed more fully in Guder’s GOCN series book, The Continuing Conversion of the Church.

Guder addresses seven concepts in this little book:

  1. The Word Became Flesh: The WHAT and HOW of Mission
  2. What Incarnational Mission Is and Is Not
  3. Incarnational Community
  4. The Comprehensive Character of Incarnational Mission
  5. The Heart of the Matter
  6. Incarnational Witness to the Gospel for All People
  7. Conversion to Incarnational Mission

This is a great book to introduce people not only to foundational concepts of the missional conversation but also to begin to reorient our view of the church, gospel, and the mission of God. The following are a few valuable quotes from the book.

The most incarnational dimension of our witness is defined by the cross itself, as we experience with Jesus that bearing his cross transforms our suffering into witness. (9)

The witness to Jesus Christ is incarnated in the formation of the church as the missional community; Jesus Christ forms his church for its incarnational witness by making disciples who become apostles. … Pentecost is the consequence and implementation of Easter. (21)

The gospel dwells in and shapes the people who are called to be its witness. The message is inextricably linked with its messengers. … The incarnational witness of the community is not sinless, but rather embodies the reality of grace in its contrition, repentance, and forgiveness. … What the world should experience in the church is not perfect Christians, but honest Christians whose lives enflesh the real possibility of new life, a new creation, living hope, and confidence that “the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:6) … Realism about the church’s frailty should not result in resignation about the Spirit’s power to transform God’s people! (22, 23)

If Christ’s calling defines the church’s purpose, and if the called community is to incarnate the good news, then, to put it bluntly, neither the institution’s existence nor its maintenance is to be its priority. … The problem is not that the church is institutional, but how it is institutional. … Is our communal institutional life an embodiment of the good news? Does the way we live, decide, spend money and make decisions as organizations reveal both the character and purposes of God for humanity? (24,25)

Incarnational witness embodies God’s love as revealed in Christ and taught by Christ. … the gospel is never a disembodied message. Rather, it is always a demonstrated message. It is the evidence that witnesses give as they live out their obedience to Christ, evidence on the basis of which others will make decisions. (39)

TheĀ  Incarnation is without a doubt foundational to the missional church. This is a great place to begin the conversation on just how important this historical reality is for the life of the community of faith.

May God help us all to be the people of God who live and witness incarnationally.

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Responses

  1. I couldn’t have said it better, “may god help us all”.


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