Chapter 3: “Changing the Interaction”
- What did you like? (What gripped/excited you?)
- What did you dislike? (What do you disagree with? Why?)
- What can you use? (How can you apply this to your situation?)
“Those who live in our community are significantly influenced by whether or not the church has a social value (i.e., does good to society). . . It is much more likely that people will respond favorably to the (verbal) witness of the church when the church is well regarded. The way in which we live and bear witness significantly influences the view that the wider community has of the church . . . Christians came to be well regarded by those who had a personal acquaintance either with Christian communities or with individual Christians through a curious combination of factors . . . the miraculous . . . healings and exorcisms . . . their ability to cross social divides and to create an authentic community in which the poor and women could hold positions of equality . . . and the astonishing practice of generous and spontaneous goodness especially to the poor and needy.” (60,61)
- How do passages like Matt. 5:13-16,44-47; Titus 2,3 (especially 2:5,7-10; 3:8) and 1 Pet. 2:12,15;3:1,15,16 relate to this point?
- How much do you emphasize this in your home group? With those you disciple?
- How could you make this more of an emphasis in your home group in ways that reinforce (not replace) verbal witness? (MOBILIZE THOSE WITH MERCY GIFTS; SERVICE PROJECTS WE CAN INVITE NON-Christians TO HELP IN; VOLUNTEER GO-GROUPS; SERVICE EVENTS THAT WE CAN INVITE NON-Christians TO).
- What is the relationship between the miracles of Jesus/early church in Acts and compassion?
“So, in our quest to reach the world with the gospel, is it sufficient merely to ‘let our light shine before men?’ Is the witness of good works all that is needed in order to win the favor of men?” (63)
- How do the authors answer their question? Do you agree with them?
- What do you think of Clive Calver’s answer: “If we try to preach the gospel but do not demonstrate the Father’s love through our actions, then our words are empty and futile. If we take part in living the life of Jesus and demonstrate his compassion in various ways but neglect to share the reason ‘why’ we are doing it, then we might as well be like any other charity . . . The proclamation of the gospel without the overt demonstration of social responsibility . . . reduces our message to the level of words without deeds. Conversely, our involvement with physical or social need, minus the good news of saving faith in Jesus, can be interpreted as little more than secular humanism.” Clive Calver, Alive in the Spirit (Lake Mary, Florida: Charisma House, 2006), p. 111.
What do you think about their discussion of the revivals in Great Britain from the middle of the 18th century to the middle of the 19th century? (66-73) Specifically:
- The progress of the Wesleyan movement by 1797—after 55 years of hard work—was pretty unimpressive (67-69). Yet the next few decades saw a massive ingathering. How does this fact affect your view of Xenos’ impact thus far?
- What are the parallels between England in 1800 and the U.S. today (70,71)? What do the authors see as the key factor in the revival becoming a movement (70-72)?
- “It is clear that something significant changed in the early years of the 19th century that was sufficiently important to bring hundreds of thousands into the churches. It was not the revival as such . . . it was as if the interaction between the religious institutions and the nature of their social environment was somehow altered so that the surrounding culture changed its view of the value of the church. That fundamental shift in the attitude of society to the church laid the foundation for the astonishing growth of the church in 19th century Britain.” (72,73)
- “Another way to think about that fundamental shift is to claim that the church formed by the revivals began to think primarily in terms of mission. That mission was directed toward winning individuals to faith but it was also sufficiently consumed with a vision of the kingdom that the transformation of society was just as important. The preoccupation of the church with mission caused the church to be shaped around mission and so to become an effective means of transforming both individuals and society as a genuine people movement. No one engaged in a campaign to abolish slavery in order to boost church attendance, yet paradoxically, by engaging first and foremost in mission the fortunes of the church were transformed.” (73) WOW! DO YOU AGREE WITH THIS? WHY DIDN’T THE CHURCH GROW AFTER THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT? WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS OF THIS FOR US?