following is (at least one of) my favorite paragraph(s) from alan hirsch & michael frost’s fantastic book, The Shaping of Things to Come: innovation and mission for the 21st century church. it’s also, i would suggest, a good contender for a summary paragraph of the entire book.
…the incarnation provides us with the missional means by which the gospel can become a genuine part of a people group without damaging the innate cultural frameworks that provide that people group with a sense of meaning and history. david bosch is right when he notes that ‘it should not bother us that during different epochs the christian faith is intrinsically incarnational.’ therefore unless the church actively resists the demands of incarnational mission, it must always enter fully into the context in which it happens to find itself. to birth, for instance, a full-fledged denominational church with all its associated western-style liturgies, symbolic system, and worldview in the middle of africa is a distortion of the incarnational principle of mission. the same is true for every missional context, including that of our now profoundly tribalized western cultures. thus the incarnational criteria must guide the church’s cultural expression in all its diverse contexts.
there. if you’re a completely lazy slob, or totally anathema to reading more than a paragraph in digital form online, then you can rest assured, knowing you have the gist of the book! but, if you’re even nominally inquisitive, or if you care even nominally about the future of the church, then you might want to read the surrounding paragraphs (and pages, and chapters).