In my city people believe in God as much as ever, but they have less and less time for organized religion. Many have been bored, hurt, got miffed, and they quietly stay away. They still believe in God, and they have values that express his love and compassion. Many of them pray for themselves and their families and for others in need. But attending a service on Sunday morning is no longer a priority. Young people admire Jesus as a person, and appreciate his teachings, but they can't see the relevance of his church.
Rather than describe people in this city as unchurched or enemies of what God is doing I have a feeling most of them are vaguely wondering what the church is about. I suspect they would fight for us if some government tried to close us down. They would certainly miss Christians if we weren't around. Is there a way to help them make sense of what is going on in Jesus' Kingdom?
This book is my very personal impression of the church in Kingston, Ontario, over a period of twenty-four years. In the New Testament there is one church in each city. But in our day the word "church" has been taken over by denominations and particular congregations meeting in a building. How would things look if we used the terminology of the New Testament?
For a start we could take seriously the fact that it is the Son of God who is building his church. As he said to Peter, "I will build my church" (the Greek word ekklesia means an assembly, public gathering, Matthew 16:18). That means he is the head of the church in my city of Kingston. I will call him the CEO (chapter 2). He is eager to give huge responsibility to any who are willing to serve him (chapter 3).
One method of running a business is for orders to come from top through a tight chain of command (a hierarchy). Paul explained that the church in each city works more like a human body with hundreds of organic interactions among the members. Our CEO delights in creativity, personal initiative, communication, and interaction among those who work with him (chapter 4).
Looking at the church from another angle he is the creator of a garden with many kinds of flower. And he is responsible for weed control (chapters 5 and 6).
It is time we stopped fussing about trying to negotiate church union. It is impossible to unite what is already one church in this city. I will show that denominations have no right to call themselves churches, but they are very important as they support different expressions of Christian life and worship (chapter 7).
How does communion and baptism fit into his plan? (chapters 8 and 9). What is our mission in the horrendous situations of our world? (chapter 10). If we can get that clear we have an exciting vision to live by (chapter 11). And when we admit our inability to do what is needed by our own strength we discover we have all the resources of the Holy Spirit to enrich and empower the church for its creative task in the world (chapter 12)..