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  • Writer's pictureLES HENSON

The Church Must Experience an Inner Transformation

Les Henson

Many churches and congregations in the Western world are bogged down in their old Christendom understandings of what it means to be the church, the people of God. There is a real need for the people of God to lay aside these redundant understandings for such understandings are a serious impediment to the church's engagement of the post-everything world in which we now live. As Newbigin points out, the church's self-understanding of her identity must be radically transformed from a non-missionary to a missionary self-image. It must see itself as existing to communicate the good news of the kingdom of God in Jesus Christ instead of maintaining the status quo. It must rediscover its missionary nature and be creative in re-engaging the world in a meaningful and transformative way.

The church is a 'pilgrim people,' according to Newbigin. It called to venture out into a world that is either ignorant of the gospel or antagonistic towards it. A sent out church must go into the hard and difficult places of this world with the good news of liberation and justice. It is called to a ministry of liberation, setting free those held in bondage by the cultural impositions of our time. Newbigin goes on to declare, "There is no participation in Christ without participation in his mission in the world." Thus, the church in the Western world needs to come to a new recognition that mission belongs to the very being or essence of the church. If the church is to be meaningful in the new and changing world of the twenty-first century, it must become outwardly missional in its orientation. Therefore, we, as the people of God, must become serious students of Western culture so that we can communicate the gospel and call for worldview transformation within the communities that we engage in a meaningful and appropriate way.

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