As part of my studies I’ve just finished Lesslie Newbigin’s The Open Secret. It’s a useful little book rooting the church’s mission in the missio Dei – that is the missional Trinity – the Father sending the Son; the Father and Son sending the Spirit; and the Triune God sending the church. The church’s mission is a part of God’s own mission. Here are a few nice little snippets:
“Christian programs for justice and compassion severed from their proper roots in the liturgical and sacramental life of the congregation lose their character as signs of the presence of Christ and risk becoming mere crusades fuelled by a moralism that can become self-righteous. And the life of the worshipping congregation severed from its proper expression in compassionate service to the community around it risks becoming a self-centred existence serving only the needs and desires of its members.”
“Election is for responsibility, not for privilege.”
“The announcement [of the gospel] means that this fact [the reign of God] is no longer something remote – far up in the heavens or far away in the future. It is an impending reality, in fact, the one great reality that confronts men and women now with the need for decision.”
“The real presence [by the Spirit] of God’s own life lived in their [the church’s] common life will be the evidence, the witness to all the nations, that the full reality of God’s victorious reign is on the way… the Spirit brings a powerful witness to the reality of the reign of God to which the world is otherwise blind.”
On the need for Scriptural revelation . . . “If you come across a building site where work is going on, and if you wish to know what is being built and for what purpose, it will not be possible to satisfy your curiosity by measuring the holes in the ground and examining the building material that is being assembled. You cannot know what is going on, much less make intelligent proposals for action, unless you have been told whether it is to be a private house, or an office, or a factory. The architect must tell you; the end product is still in his or her mind and on the drawing board. You can learn the architect’s plans only by receiving what he or she has to tell. At this point the concept of revelation is not an alien intrusion in to the process of responsible human knowing. There is no other possibility.”
It’s not the best book I’ve read on this subject but it is an important foundation upon which others have built. If you’re interested at all in mission studies Newbigin can’t be missed.