Radical Gospel, Radical Church

What would happen if your church embraced a radical gospel?

Anyone familiar with my book, The Problem of Wineskins: Church Structure in a Technological Age, will recognize that the above paragraphs come directly from that book, published in 1975 (pp. 23-24).

From time to time, people ask: Do you still believe what you wrote in Wineskins? The answer is yes.

If I were writing this today, I would change virtually nothing. These words are as needed today as ever. I see little signs of the church losing its edifice complex or really taking seriously the priesthood of all believers.

Thankfully, there are exceptions. More today than ever before, in fact. This is true especially if you look globally. Where the church is growing most rapidly in the world, it is multiplying small units and putting into practice the biblical principles hinted at above, and elaborated in The Problem of Wineskins. It has ever been thus.

I mean the multiplying of small units, not megachurches. Megachurches come and go, all down through history, and sometimes do more good than harm. But whether one is talking about South Korea, Central Africa, Brazil or anywhere else in the world, dynamic movements of church planting and social transformation are based in and fed by the multiplication of relatively small groups of believers that maintain some prophetic tension with the surrounding culture, as much research shows.

Much that is written today about “radical faith” and “radical church” is not nearly radical enough. Not if the Bible really is our guide.

And God still today is saying: “I will do a new thing.”

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Howard Snyder
Formerly professor of the history and theology of mission, Asbury Theological Seminary (1996-2006); now engaged in research and writing in Wilmore, Kentucky. Professor of Wesley Studies, Tyndale Seminary, Toronto, 2007-2012. Formerly taught and pastored in São Paulo, Brazil; Detroit, Michigan; and Chicago, Illinois. Howard Snyder’s main interest is in the power and relevance of Jesus Christ and his Kingdom for the world today and tomorrow. He has written on a range of topics including church history, cultural trends, globalization, worldviews, evangelism, and various cultural issues.