A helpful reminder from Subversive Kingdom. Ed talks about “The Church on Mission”…
Some people talk as if the church isn’t necessary to this endeavor anymore, that it no longer applies to his plan and mission to the same degree it once did. They say, “God is at work outside the church”–and, yes, he is. They say, “The kingdom is bigger than the church”–and, yes, it is. They say “The kingdom of God is not the church”–and no, it isn’t.
But the missionary purpose that forges our identity, placed within us by a missional God, continues to draw us into the core of his kingdom activity. The ministry of his gospel has been designed “so that God’s multi-faceted wisdom may now be made known through the church” (Eph. 3:10, italics added). And so that through us, he receives glory.
The church, therefore, remains his central tool for accomplishing the subversive kingdom’s agenda. No, we are not the means of reconciliation any more than the misinformed modern citizen is the potential conduit to heaven on earth. God does the saving, not the church. But just as he sent Jesus here to establish a beachhead for the kingdom, and just as Jesus dispatched his first disciples to carry out his kingdom plan (John 20:21), the church has now emerged in the wake of this mission, called to advance God’s kingdom by taking gospel light into the darkest corners of society as his messengers. Not to prove we’re right. Not to win. Not because we’re better than everybody else. We go because we are carrying out the mission of our founder. We go because we are sent by him, and he sends us empowered by his Spirit.
Subversive Kingdom, p 168-169.