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Redeeming the Language of the Church

Defining our Terms

The Keystone Project philosophy promotes a major shift in the way the Church engages the lost, calling for the multiplication of Spirit-led followers of Jesus Christ who live radical kingdom lives to reach the unreached. This paradigm shift requires the development of a pattern of thinking and behavior which is, in many respects, the opposite of the prevailing strategies dominating contemporary mission.

If we are going to launch movements of disciples making disciples who make disciples, we will have to think very differently than we have in the past. Specifically, we will have to recapture the purity of our theology, especially as it defines our understanding of the kingdom of God, discipleship, the Church, and the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the disciple and the work of God.

We will then have to intentionally reconnect our theology to our daily lives, discovering how to actually live what Jesus taught in an exponentially changing world which has become saturated with consumerism, secularism, technology, and the fragmentation of family and community into microtrends and subcultures.

This paradigm shift will begin with our language and the terminology we use. Some commonly used words and terms need to be re-defined or clarified to be more faithful to their theological and biblical meanings. It is essential for the modern Church to reflect on the ramifications of its major theological positions.

For example, what do we mean by “discipleship”? Does the modern use and understanding of the word discipleship accurately reflect how Jesus and the early church used and understood it?

How do we communicate our ecclesiology (our doctrine of the Church) to our communities? Is our major engagement with our local churches accurately portraying the biblical concept of the Church to the world? Can a church not be the Church? What is the work of the Church and how does a church accomplish it?

What does the kingdom of God look like in a postmodern culture and world? How does the Church establish the kingdom of God, and what is the relationship between the Church and the kingdom of God?

What does it mean to “be filled with the Holy Spirit”? Is there an active role of the Holy Spirit in a Christian’s life? What is that role? What do we mean by walking in the Spirit? Being led by the Spirit?

With so many different theological positions and conclusions in Christendom and so much information about Christianity available to us, it is essential to know what we mean when we use commonly spoken words or terms. The following glossary establishes the definitions of the main words, terms, and concepts as they are used in the Keystone Project training manual

Keystone Project Glossary

Apostles – those who function in an apostolic way; not an “office” but an operational gifting given to the Church by the Holy Spirit

Church and church(es) – Church (“big C”) refers to the universal body of Christ; church (“small c”) refers to a local expression of the Church.

Disciple – a Spirit-transformed follower of Jesus Christ

Discipleship – the process of making a disciple; imparting the life of Christ through the indwelling Holy Spirit and guiding the individual into a life characterized by following Christ in Spirit-led obedience

Emergent – the spontaneous development of complex systems from the interaction of simple, basic components; emergence occurs when the most basic elements present interact, forming a relational connection which becomes a new entity; missionally, when disciples make disciples and engage in kingdom living with one another, the Church is expanded and churches will emerge (see Redemptive Communities below).

Genetic Code – biologically, the set of rules by which information encoded in genetic material (DNA) is translated into proteins by living cells; all living things have DNA, the basic genetic material which makes the organism what it is; metaphorically, genetic code refers to the relationship and functioning of an entity’s most basic elements; the genetic code of Christianity refers to what is needed to be a true Christian.

Incarnational – theologically, the incarnation is God becoming flesh in Jesus Christ (Jn 1:14), when God became a man to reach men (Php 2:7); “incarnational living” refers to the disciple embodying the teachings of Jesus in the way he lives, especially before others and in the way he relates to others; it is living in such a way that Christ is made known to those who do not know Him.

Kingdom – the rule of God and its various applications, especially through God’s creative and redemptive purposes; kingdom living seeks to establish God’s rule in others by lifting the curse in the lives of those who bear its consequences (e.g., feeding the hungry, praying for the sick, and preaching the Gospel are all kingdom acts designed to establish God’s rule in a person’s or community’s life). Jesus defined this principle in Mt 12:28.

Missional – of or pertaining to the mission; missional means intentionality in mission; to live missionally is to intentionally re-prioritize and order your life to make Christ known to those who do not know Him.

Organic – that which is naturally developing or sustaining; organic structures (i.e., in a church) are not built or imposed, they are the natural result of the lives and relationships of those who are the church.

Redemptive Communities – a group of disciples who are committed to one another and to God’s redemptive purposes; redemptive communities will have many different forms and expressions depending on their setting and role in the mission (groups, cells, teams, networks, churches, etc.).
—From the Keystone Project Training Manual by Richard Greene. Coppyright 2012. 

The Keystone Project is a global missions network of churches and leaders committed to the fulfillment of the Great Commission in this generation.

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