This is not a lengthy treatment of ecclesiology, but rather a conversation about how our pursuit of 'obedient nations' will affect our understanding of what the church IS and about what the church DOES.
So much has emerged in recent years about our understanding of the church, and I personally believe some of this certainly has to do with post-modernity and the crashing of the gods of modernity, but it also has to do with other elements of this age, and the fact that we are globalized, very 'glocal' in our understanding of what the church IS and DOES.
Of course we always have to understand that the 'church' is a global, universal Body and Bride of Christ, but it is also a local fellowship or a conglomeration or collective of churches like denominations or, a 'national church.'
In my book's rough draft, I say, in some ways we're ready for this obedient nations mandate today, in part because the church is smaller than it was in the past: both by,
1. UNITY ... I believe we have many signs today, in part because of the age in which we're living ...that the church local and global is much more unified that its been in a long time.
2. SIZE. a longer discussion, but I also see much frustration, certainly in North America, with, as Wolfgang Simson says, "church-as-we-know-it--CAWKI." But I see it rather culminating in what was the big elephant in the room, and that is, our very best and brightest megachurches are NOT producing disciples and even the classic "program" is really not meeting people's most basic felt needs--of community, actual worship, intimacy with God, and certainly the ministries which the CPMs seem to boast constantly about (healings and other ministry times, everyone participating, etc.).
That is part of what I believe is the popularization of the statement: "I'm not religious, but I am spiritual." It's frustration with the organized faith, the plethora of denominations, the ongoing battles about doctrine, long after most people have decided their faith is not primarily a cognitive and doctrinal thing, but a "matter of the heart."
I do see signs of hope in the very small 'church-planting movements' or 'disciple-making movements' most often happening in the much tougher environments, like the Muslim world and/or throughout parts of North India or East Africa. I say, "the Church is smaller than we thought" in part thanks to Patrick Johnstone's great little book about the church being bigger than we thought. My response is a bit of a play on words, and, while I do agree with almost everything Patrick says in his great little book, I do see the future has having a very significant 'growth' of the global Body of Christ, to the degree that the church achieves greater unity and a strategy of smallness--in order to see the organic nature of the ecclesia return in our day.
Does anyone have comments or a conversation they'd like to engage--on this topic of how our pursuit of obedient nations will have some affect on the nature and activities of the church?