The Church Is ‘God’s Demonstration Plot’

harvest churchThis is one I posted over a year ago, but it’s well worth a repeat:

The church is missionary by nature because God has sent it on a mission in the world under the leading of the Spirit. It is to bear witness to God’s redemptive reign.

Just as God is a missionary God, so the church is to be a missionary church. It is to live fully within the active, redemptive, kingdom reign of God in the world as it is led and taught by the Spirit. It is to be a new community that expresses both the intent of creation design and the aspirations of re-creation as it anticipates the new heavens and new earth…

Growing up on a farm in rural Iowa provided me with an object lesson for understanding the church’s being missionary by nature. Each county in the state employed an extension agent to work with farmers. These extension agents were usually university graduates with degrees in agriculture. As new farming technologies, seeds, and fertilizers became available, the extension agents introduced these to farmers. My dad, like many farmers, was often hesitant to accept the innovations. One of the methods extension agents used to gain acceptance of these innovations was demonstration plots.

A strip of land, usually along a major roadway, was selected as a demonstration plot, where a new farming method, seed, or fertilizer was used to raise a crop. It was not uncommon for farmers to remain skeptical throughout the summer as the crops grew. But there was always keen interest in the fall when the crop was harvested. Invariably, the innovation performed better than the crops in the surrounding fields. By the next year, many farmers, including my dad, would be using the innovation as if it had been their idea all along.

The church is God’s demonstration plot in the world. Its very existence demonstrates that His redemptive reign has already begun. Its very presence invites the world to watch, listen, examine, and consider accepting God’s reign as a superior way of living.”

– Craig Van Gelder, The Essence of the Church, pp. 98-100 (bold emphases mine)

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