by Sam Metcalf
—Reviewed by Brian Hull, associate professor of youth ministry, Department of Christian Studies and Philosophy, Asbury University.
There has long been a tension in the church between local church ministries and missionary churches, or as some might term them “parachurch” organizations. On the one hand, local church ministries argue for their stability, clear structure of leadership, accountability, and shepherding. On the other hand, missionary churches argue for their entrepreneurship, mobility, vitality, and flexibility.
In his 1973 article, “The Two Structures of Apostolic Mission,” Ralph Winter introduced the terms modality and sodality, to help us understand the issues. Modality is the church in its local, parish, diocesean form, and sodality is the church in its task-oriented, missionary, sent form. Sam Metcalf, president of Church Resource Ministries (CRM), builds on Winter’s article and terms, seeking to help the church see the value and distinctiveness of both.
Metcalf’s main point is that the church needs to embrace and support the apostolic movements. These operate outside the local church context to reach culturally distant people groups. He wonders why the local church does not accept and embrace the apostolic movements.
Metcalf points out apostolic movements that have been a vital part of the church since its inception. He recognizes the deep need for the movement of the church across cultural lines and for the freeing of leaders who God is calling in these directions. To this end, he argues for the removal of the phrase “para” before church in any setting because it communicates that these apostolic, missionary churches are less valuable or important than local churches.
He does a very good job emphasizing the importance of expanding the role of leadership beyond shepherd and teacher to include the apostle, prophet, and evangelist (APEST) from Ephesians 4. Another strong point of the book is that Metcalf encourages and empowers those who feel called to the more apostolic ministry that often exists outside the local church. He wraps up the book by talking about the power and effectiveness of these apostolic movements throughout history.
My one critique of the book is that it comes across as overly harsh and somewhat simplistic in its view of the local church. It does this, I believe, to highlight the impoverished view of the missionary churches, which is a correct goal, but in so doing it diminishes its message of valuing the distinctiveness of both.
This book will be especially useful for those trying to expand their ecclesiology to include the more apostolic movements and for those who are searching for support of their calling to a more apostolic, prophetic ministry.
Check these titles:
Collins, Travis. 2015. Fresh Expressions of Church. Franklin, Tenn.: Seedbed Publishing.
Hirsch, Alan, Tim Catchim, and Mike Breen. 2012. The Permanent Revolution: Apostolic Imagination and Practice for the 21st Century Church. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Newbigin, Lesslie. 1954. The Household of God; Lectures on the Nature of the Church. New York: Friendship Press.
Winter, Ralph D. 1974. “Two Structures of God’s Redemptive Mission.” Missiology 2(1): 121–139.
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EMQ, Vol. 52, No. 4. Copyright © 2016 Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMQ editors.