The Multiplying Church 1 – Incarnational

I’m gonna do a few series kind of interacting with and starting discussions about themes in some books on church planting. This first series comes out of the The Multiplying Church.

The forward to this book is written by Ed Stetzer, who explains that for a church to be faithful, it must be incarnational, indigenous, and intentional. I’ll hit each of those ideas in three posts over the next 24 hours.

Incarational churches become deeply involved in their communities. As Jesus put flesh on and moved into our neighborhood, an effective church planter moves into the neighborhood and lives amongst the people there. Later in the book, Bob Roberts writes that we must “speak their language, feel their pain, and share their joys as well. We totally identify with them as Jesus did when He came from Heaven to be with us.”

Unfortunately, this is the opposite of “normal church” today, where most live isolationist lives from within the confines of a Christian bubble. So I guess the question is: How do we escape the Christian bubble and get integrated into the community? How do we initiate relationships? What can we find in common with people who are far from God, so we can develop those relationships?

For me, the most difficult part is initiating the relationships. What about you? What part challenges you?

Roberts says that the risk of incarnational living is “either shortchanging the gospel and making it easy believism or denying the exclusivity of Jesus Christ.” That’s because as we grow to love people there’s a temptation to lower Jesus’ standards to help our friends reach them. Obviously we have to avoid this, but it isn’t always easy. When you’re sitting across the table from a couple in your small group who are living together, you just don’t want to offend them, you don’t want to lose them as friends, and you’re afraid of turning them away from God. So it’s easy to show grace, but avoid truth.

Do you agree? What do you see as the risks of living incarnationally?

One last question: Let’s say you moved into a town to plant a church, what (practical) steps would you take to live incarnationally, and to make sure your new church does the same?

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