Lesslie Newbigin “believed that the ‘whole thrust of the 20th century [last century] rediscovery of the missionary nature of the church is lost if it does not lead to a radical re-conception of what it means to be a local congregation of God’s people.’ And so he frequently expressed his conviction that the local congregation is the primary reality of the church and therefore the only possible hermeneutic of the gospel” (Michael W. Goheen, The Church and Its Vocation: Lessie Newbigin’s Missionary Ecclesiology, p. 108).
Amen and amen.
But this means getting our “local” ecclesiology right (as in biblical). We confuse our form for church, yet our form (and its institution) will determine much in how we (and the public) understand what we mean by the gospel. We tend to read back our form and way of doing church into the New Testament (a bad hermeneutic!). We need to think more deeply about ecclesiology and the local, gathered-church. Frankly, we need a "radical re-conception" of the nature, purpose, and meaning of the local church, what I prefer to call, the local, gathered-church.
Chip M. Anderson, advocate for biblical social action; pastor of an urban church plant in the Hill neighborhood of New Haven, CT; husband, father, author, former Greek & NT professor; and, 19 years involved with social action.