“The church is not something additional or optional. It is at the very heart of God’s purposes. Jesus came to create a people who would model what it means to live under His rule. It would be a glorious outpost of the kingdom of God, an embassy of heaven.
This is where the world can see what it truly means to be human. Our identity as human beings is found in community. Our identity as Christians is found in Christ’s new community. And our mission takes place through communities of light. Christianity is ‘total church.'”
–Tim Chester and Steve Timmis, Total Church (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2007), 50.
“Once again it has to be said that there can be no going back to the ‘Constantinian’ era.
It will only be by movements that begin with the local congregation in which the reality of the new creation is present, known and experienced, and from which men and women will go into every sector of public life to claim it for Christ, to unmask the illusions which have remained hidden and to expose all areas of public life to the illumination of the gospel.
But that will only happen as and when local congregations renounce introverted concern for their own life, and recognize they exist for the sake of those who are not members, as sign, instrument, and foretaste of God’s redeeming grace for the whole life of society.”
–Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society (London: SPCK, 1989), 232-233.
“I am assuming that we are all committed to the church. We are not only Christian people; we are also church people. We are not only committed to Christ, we are also committed to the body of Christ. At least I hope so.
I trust that none of my readers is that grotesque anomaly, an unchurched Christian. The New Testament knows nothing of such a person. For the church lies at the very centre of the eternal purpose of God. It is not a divine afterthought. It is not an accident of history. On the contrary, the church is God’s new community.
For His purpose, conceived in a past eternity, being worked out in history, and to be perfected in a future eternity, is not just to save isolated individuals and so perpetuate our loneliness, but rather to build His church, that is, to call out of the world a people for His own glory…
So then, the reason we are committed to the church is that God is so committed.”
–John Stott, The Living Church (Nottingham, UK: InterVarsity Press, 2007), 19-20.