If time travel existed and we were transported to the first three centuries of the church, most of us would not recognize it as church because it has none of the outward forms and little of the traditional characteristics of what we normally call ”church.” We inhabit a much more institutional “idea of church” than that of our early forebears. And not all of it is bad. But what has been highly damaging is the present-day way of being and doing church that arose from it becoming the official, state-sponsored religion. As a result, mission was trivialized to being a marginal, undeveloped, unloved subset of the church rather than being its organizing principle. This has distorted our sense of identity and our purpose as God’s people from being a dynamic, transformative movement to being a static, religious institution.
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