In So Beautiful: Divine Design for Life and the Church, Leonard Sweet (author, professor, futurist, and deep thinker) enters the missional Church discussion. While numerous authors are calling for a dechurching of Christianity, Sweet rather suggests that God is in the process of “re-Christianizing the church.” This calls for a fundamental shift in the understanding and practice of church, from attractional, propositional, and colonial (APC) to missional, relational, and incarnational (MRI).
If there were “just one word” the church needs to hear today, it is the one you will hear in a variety of ways throughout this book. Mission. …. The ultimate story of the Bible, the metanarrative that unlocks the whole story, is that God is on a mission, and we are summoned to participate with God in that mission.
The shift from APC church to MRI church is a change from merely growing larger churches to joining in the mission of God, no matter the size of our church. Attractional church creates members; missional church creates missionaries. Propositional church creates believers; relational church creates disciples. Colonial church creates consumers; incarnational church creates world changers.
After providing sections on each of the three elements in an MRI church, Sweet ends with an epilogue that sketches some ideas for measuring the success of an MRI church. What do we measure besides attendance, buildings, and cash?
In So Beautiful, Sweet has written a book that is both useful to the expert and open to the novice. This is no easy task! I was especially delighted by the 50 pages of footnotes that make this book a springboard into other useful books and articles.
I will be keeping my very marked up copy of So Beautiful as a great resource.