The kingdom of God spreads from person to person within human networks of influence.

This entry is part 43 of 118 in the series Diagnosis, Dialogue, Decision: A DMin Project

Leadership is influence.[1] Influence exists only within relationships. The work of the pastor is to equip the saints for the work of ministry; that ministry is the building up the body of Christ.[2] The work of ministry to which the saints are called is specifically oikodomeo (οικοδομεω), translated in the New Testament as either “building up” or “edifying” but can be understood in modern terminology as networking, linking, or connecting. The ministry of the saints is the relational task of building community.

            Building up the body of Christ literally means building true community between the members and, by extension, with potential converts.[3] The kingdom of God spreads from person to person within human networks of influence. Modern culture hungers for this sort of relational, nurturing intimacy: “The most powerful message for postmoderns may be to let the church be the church – not an institution but a living, breathing, missionary community.”[4] The laity are called to a relational ministry of building up links between people of the body of Christ. Acts of Christian love among neighbors build ongoing relationships that prepare individuals for conversion through conversation; over time these persons can be discipled toward maturity in a cell group that functions as a nuclear spiritual family.[5] In times past people were looking for a friendly church; now they are simply looking for friends.

QUOTE [1]

NOTE


DISCERNMENT QUESTIONS

RESOURCES

[1] The quote is a selection from David O. Kueker’s Fuller Seminary Doctor of Ministry project submitted in September, 2007, entitled Diagnosis, Dialogue, and Decision: A Threefold Process of Revitalization For the Illinois Great Rivers Conference.
It is shared here in recognition of its 12th Anniversary along with comments to update and provide perspective on the material. The original project was a Training Manual/Study Guide of three Seminars supported by three chapters of research and an Introduction. The material is available for download at www.disciplewalk.com/Resources.html. In 2009 it was provided for purchase as a softcover book entitled Designing Discipleship Systems: Christian Disciple Making For Any Size Church, Any Theology through CreateSpace.com.

[2][3] [4][5] [6][7] [8]

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Please review the page How and Why We Use Quotes.



[1]J. Oswald Sanders, quoted in George Barna, Leaders on Leadership (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1997), 21, 183.

[2]Ephesians 4:12. I prefer the “triple definition of the one purpose” interpretation by Markus Barth in “VI. The Church Without Laymen and Priests” in Ephesians: Anchor Bible (New York: Doubleday & Co., 1974), 34a:477-484. The saints are equipped for missional acts of service which result in the relational community of οικοδομεω.

[3]My definition of community used in this study guide is that described in Peck, Different Drum, 86-135. For the decline in social capital, cf. Office of Research, General Board of Global Ministries, “A Bowling Revival,” Background Data for Mission 12, no. 11, November 2000, under http://gbgm-umc.org/ researchoffice/bdm/bdm0011.cfm (accessed June 18, 2007).

[4]Jonathan Campbell, “Postmodernism: Ripe For A Global Harvest – But Is The Church Ready?” Evangelical Missions Quarterly 35, (October, 1999): 432-437.

[5]This is the heart of Willow Creek’s seven step strategy, which defines a process where seeker friendly individual relationships as a means of prevenient grace lead to seeker sensitive worship and finally to seeker supportive small groups as a means of sanctifying grace. Cf. Bill Hybels, The Seven Step Philosophy (Barrington, IL: Seeds Tape Ministry, 1999), audiotape # c9002.

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