But what is the church for?

What is the Mission of the Local Church?Neil Darragh
Published by Wipf and Stock in the USA but available in New Zealand from this Accent Publications website.

$30.00

What is the church really for? Some people are members of the church because it’s part of their family tradition or their culture or their identity. Others have left the church because that’s all it is in fact. Is it the best way to salvation or a way of coming closer to God? In any case, the church is not just for us or the benefits we get out of it. Very few of us would say that this is what the church is really for. There is surely something more here, something more generous, life-giving, outgoing, and gracious than what we personally get out of it.

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Description

What is the church really for? Some people are members of the church because it’s part of their family tradition or their culture or their identity. Others have left the church because that’s all it is in fact. Is it the best way to salvation or a way of coming closer to God? In any case, the church is not just for us or the benefits we get out of it. Very few of us would say that this is what the church is really for. There is surely something more here, something more generous, life-giving, outgoing, and gracious than what we personally get out of it.

This book is about the church’s outreach beyond itself—-its purpose beyond any benefits for those already its members. This book is not about a church looking inwards and worrying about itself, but about a church looking outwards. The local Christian community that we belong to is part of that much bigger, much more exhilarating project of the evolving realm of God.”

Contents

Part I: Perspectives | 1
1. What Is the Church For? | 3
2. Talking about Christianity in Public | 17
3. The Realm of God | 28
4. The Realm of God and Wellbeing | 41
5. Contemporary Impact of the Realm of God | 52
Part II: Mission in Contemporary Society | 63
6. Recent Mission Theologies | 65
7. Dangerous Missions | 80
8. Mission in a Secular Society | 89
9. Secularization | 104
Part III: Mission in a Pluralist Society | 121
10. Mission in a Pluralist Democracy | 123
11. Strategies of Local Church Mission | 138
12. A Local Theology of Mission | 152
13. Self-Critique | 165
14. The Next Step | 180
Bibliography | 183

Reviews

  1. Accent Publications

    “‘But what is the church for?’ asks a very important and challenging question essential for any follower of Christ today… My hope is that this book will be read, prayed with, reflected upon deeply, so that in living the gospel, all will work for the good of one another, our society. our world.”
    – John Cardinal Dew, Archbishop of Wellington.

    “In 2009 I spent a week visiting Neil Darragh at his home in Auckland, New Zealand. We spent hours walking around the city, talking over dinner and glasses of great wine, and through it all I felt like I was attending a marvelous post-doctoral seminar, learning from and sharing with an amazing person, a deeply learned teacher, a committed theologian, and a true pastor. This is the same sense I had when reading this wonderful, ground-breaking book. This is mission theology at its best–grounded in God’s mission, focused not on the church but on its role in working with God for the “wellbeing” of all creatures, rooted in the local church, ecumenically sensitive, honest and practical at every turn. If you are going to read one book on mission, read this one. If you are planning to read several, read this one first. It may be the best book you will read this year, and you will be inspired and changed.”
    – Stephen Bevans, SVD, Catholic Theological Union, Chicago.

    “Grounded in sustained theological reflection and long-term engagement in public life, But What is the Church For? is a well-structured and integrated argument for a Church that is fundamentally missionary in service to the Realm of God. Neil Darragh clearly and convincingly articulates the role of the ‘citizen theologian’ in the local church who is engaged within contemporary secular pluralist societies to enhance human well-being and care for the earth.”
    – Robert Gascoigne, School of Theology, Australian Catholic University.

    “Darragh is convincing in his claim that mission does not happen ‘out there’ or ‘over there.’ Mission in today’s pluralistic, multireligious, and multicultural Western world is to be place based, and its practitioners . . . are to be actively engaged at the local-church and societal levels to ensure the well-being of all. This will mean the Christian community is at the service of the realm of God.
    – Susan Smith, Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions.

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