Newbigin, who died in 1998, was a Scottish Presbyterian minister, missionary, and theologian who encouraged the Church to have a vibrant gospel witness in the postmodern world.
In chapter 18, Newbigin has some outstanding things to say about what a vibrant Christian congregation looks like. He says it's marked by six things. I'll list them for you, using Newbigin's own words:
- It is a community of praise. We live together reverently and thankfully toward God.
- It is a community of truth. We hold onto the Scriptures as God's authoritative revelation.
- It is a community that does not live for itself but is deeply involved in the concerns of its neighborhood. (I like Newbigin's analogy: the Church is "God's embassy in a specific place.")
- It is a community where men and women are prepared for and sustained in the exercise of the priesthood in the world. ("It is in the ordinary secular business of the world that the sacrifices of love and obedience are to be offered to God." So to Newbigin, the church needs to be "a place where its members are trained, supported, and nourished in the exercise of their parts of the priestly ministry in the world.")
- It is a community of mutual responsibility. (Newbigin calls the church "a new social order . . . where God's justice and God's peace are already an experienced treasure.")
- It is a community of hope. ("The gospel offers an understanding of the human situation which makes it possible to be filled with a hope which is both eager and patient even in the most hopeless situations.")