Episode 116: The Outward Facing Church

In this episode we wrestle with the question, “What is salvation?” and what that means for our efforts to be “outward facing” in our ministries. (Much of the content of this podcast came from Session 1 of our recent Essential Church Learning Community. You can learn more about and register for our next Learning Community HERE.)

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Being “born again” or “being saved” is often misinterpreted… the question is are we really counting salvations, or just emotional responses to sermons…?

We count people who have decided to go into the waters of baptism… we think that is the number to celebrate…

Salvation is as much a process as it is an event… yes, we’ve decided to follow Jesus… but that moment of decision ought to throw you into a lifelong process… 

Salvation is an event within a story… the Bible teaches us by telling a story… sin is the story of God’s good world coming apart… salvation is wholeness, it’s the story of God putting the world back together again… 

We can think about it in concentric circles… there is the individual who is being put back together again inside a people who are also being put together again… and both are signs of the new creation…

Some of this is a holdover from a revivalist era… once upon a time we could assume that the culture was basically Christian and people just needed to make a fresh “decision” for Jesus (without baptism)… but that’s not the case anymore…

There’s also something here with the Enlightenment’s obsession with the soul… we’ve been on a long track of dis-incarnation… where as long as something happens “inside” me, I don’t need a church… 

The church is the indispensable context whereby our salvation is worked out… 

The Enlightenment relegated God “up there” somewhere… which by default made salvation about “the afterlife” or just “your spiritual life”…

Thinking about salvation in that way makes the ancient call of the church to acts of mercy incomprehensible… it’s difficult to give a robust account of the call to feed the poor if all that matters is the afterlife…

We are saved into a people… we are saved through a people… we are saved for a people…  

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