This is the final part in this series. Check out previous posts for Part 1, Part 2, or Part 3. At the end of this post is a link for the entire paper “Communities of the Kingdom of God,” by Dick Scoggins.
One Kingdom, many diverse communities
Modern Christendom has created a model of community (church) that may serve some well. But Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God, and in that era his hearers would have recognized that although the “city on the hill” was powerful and impressive, it needed many other types of communities to keep the kingdom strong: caravans to bring goods from afar; military to guard against raiders and foreign armies; small villages where crops can be raised; navies to export goods across the great sea; etc. When the Kingdom of God enters into these narrower-focused social groups, Kingdom Communities need to be established that will suit the communal lives of those in the community.
To push the analogy a bit further: Jerusalem was the “city on the hill,” and the local church would have served Jerusalem well. But Jesus did not establish a church. He started a small band of apostles—an apostolic community—which would have much more resembled the nomadic caravans of that era. He challenged them to go, as caravans—mobile communities—and establish local, contextual Communities of the Kingdom wherever they went—and then move on. And they did…in Roman centuries, villages, towns, cities….
These would have been much more diversified than simply what we find outlined in the Pauline epistles (networks of house churches in major cities). Those forms of the Kingdom, of course, have their place. But there can be many more expressions of the Kingdom of God available for the next innovative era.
The Apostolic Team and the Church are perhaps two extremes of the spectrum: mobile, fluid community (our camel caravan), and complex local community (the city on the hill) that make up the complex Kingdom of God. I believe that God has allowed for a great number of different types of communities to fill in the spectrum of His Kingdom and that God’s people would be much better served if we were to explore different types of Kingdom Communities which would better act as lights in the darkness. May God grant us grace and courage to answer the needs of our time!
…This ends our series “Communities of the Kingdom of God.” View the whole paper and download a copy for yourself here.