Christopher Wright shares some insightful observations on where evangelicals have made mistakes in doing missions on the Koinonia blog. He points to false dichotomies we’ve made that have hindered our outreach. For example,
We have tended to separate the individual from the cosmic and corporate impact of the gospel, and to prioritize the first. That is, we put personal salvation and individual evangelism at the centre of all our efforts, (and of course individual evangelism is an essential part of our commitment.). But Paul’s order of the gospel message in Ephesians, and Colossians 1:15-26, is Creation (all things in heaven and earth, created by Christ, sustained by Christ and redeemed by Christ), then:, church (with Christ as head), and then individual Gentile believers: ‘and you also’. All of this, says Paul, is ‘reconciled through the blood of Christ shed on the cross’. So we are not saved out of creation, but as part of creation that God has redeemed through Christ. The church is not just a container for souls till they get to heaven, but the living demonstration of the unity that is God’s intention for creation, in itself a ‘preaching’ to the principalities and powers because of what God has accomplished and proved in the creation of ‘one new humanity’ in Christ. All this we learn from Ephesians and Colossians, but we still tend to put all our emphasis on getting individuals saved.
The bad result of this weakened theology is that Christians evangelized by such a truncated version of the biblical gospel have little interest in the world, the public square, God’s plan for society and the nations, and even less understanding of God’s intention for creation itself. The scale of our mission efforts therefore is in danger of being a lot less than the scope of the mission of God.
The second part of this interview should be posted on Koinonia tomorrow.