Beyond the Local Church
Many people have given up on the church. But that doesn't mean that they've given up on God or Christianity. In many cases, it was merely that local church congregations were not the best context for missional people to live out their sense of God's call.
The good news is that God is raising up vibrant movements of Christians in a vast array of vocations around the world: disciple-making ministries, missions, relief and development, social activism, advocacy and much more. These are all strategic ways to live for the kingdom—in venues beyond the local church.
Wherever movements of the gospel have occurred, visionary people and apostolic structures have been essential. Mission leader Sam Metcalf shows how God has always worked through entrepreneurial individuals and organizations that launched out in fresh ways. He gives biblical and missiological foundations for missional movements, showing that what has often been called "parachurch" is an equally valid manifestation of the church. Affirming the strengths of apostolic personalities, Metcalf shows how they can be deployed to cross cultural barriers, renew secular societies and transform the nations with the power of the gospel.
God may be inviting you to join what he is doing around the world. Answer the call and discover how God can use you beyond your imagination.
"Beyond the Local Church is a critically dangerous read for anyone within earshot of Christendom. If Sam is wrong, nothing will change and the church will continue its downward slide into a remnant. If Sam is right, the church is uniquely and powerfully poised to reach the world. Great read, timely, and as usual, I find myself disagreeing on a few points but mostly muttering to myself, Dang it, I think he's right!"
"Many people today in our backyard, the inner city or across the world are not attracted to or being reached by our churches today. Have we been shortsighted in not seeing the potential sitting in the pew by not training, empowering and sending those whose gifts would be better used outside the traditional church? Beyond the Local Church brings an exciting vision for an unrestricted apostolic empowering and sending that matches the biblical apostolic age of the first century church. Read, listen and respond so the true potential of God's calls is realized."
"The discipling of nations requires the whole body of Christ to work together. Apostolic people and structures extend the gospel across geographic, cultural and linguistic barriers. Local churches nurture and mobilize disciples for ministry. Both are essential. As a global mission leader, Sam Metcalf makes a passionate call for missional synergy and inspires us to unleash new waves of entrepreneurs for the fulfillment of the Great Commission. This book is dynamite. Grounded in Scripture, its principles can spark movements that will change our world."
"Beyond the Local Church challenges the too common (but ultimately illegitimate) division between church and parachurch ministries. Sam Metcalf asks questions and explores categories that are helpful and thought provoking, regardless of whether someone ends up agreeing. This book is a necessary addition to the many conversations being had about how Christ's church should function from the margins of Western culture."
"I loved the following quote in chapter nine: 'And may God do it through those of you for whom this book is written, those apostolically gifted men and women destined to make your God-ordained contribution around the world through fresh, authentic gospel movements. May what is written here validate your calling and encourage you to action. The health and vibrancy of the entire Christian movement is at stake, and the eternal destiny of the multitudes hangs in the balance.' The quote is typical of the many challenges in view in this book. Sam wants to see the Great Commission carried out, and this book is stellar on apostolic movements—firsthand research and experimentation and years of practice have led to its insights. My hope is that many apostolically gifted men and women will profit from Sam's careful capture of so many practical insights about apostolic movements."
"In Beyond the Local Church, Sam Metcalf provides a fresh, inspiring and provocative look at how the body of Christ is meant to function. You won't agree with everything; neither did I. But that's exactly why you need to read it—to challenge your assumptions and expand your horizons on a topic too important to ignore."
"Beyond the Local Church reflects Sam Metcalf's experience as a scholar and as a practitioner of the Great Commission. His metaphor of two feet walking in tandem is instructive and challenging to both church and parachurch alike. Metcalf's writing is direct and edifying and worth reading by those who have been sent and those doing the sending."
"Apostles, prophets and evangelists: prepare to be encouraged as Sam unfolds history and the Scriptures to illustrate what God intends for the church to be, why we often don't feel like we fit in, and how we can best live out our calling and bless the local church. As I read Beyond the Local Church I found myself finding new meaning and understanding of my past experiences in the local church. I love the local church, but it is not the primary place I am fed or launched into the work that God has called me to do. Sam's work here has expanded my understanding of the church, validated my gifting and role and spurred me on to help build the structures necessary to unleash the fullness of the church in all its forms. My greatest contribution to the local church will likely result from efforts that expand and bring new life into the church in ways the local church cannot do for itself."
"Sam Metcalf makes a compelling case for the biblical pattern of local churches and apostolic bands in dynamic partnership. The fulfillment of the Great Commission demands it. Along the way Sam illustrates these principles with stories and case studies gleaned from a lifetime of experience in world mission. His chapter on how to engage and release apostolic leaders is worth the price of admission!"
"This groundbreaking book challenges us to think differently and more biblically regarding local church and mission. We have become trapped in our thinking, history and culture about the human structures God uses. We have argued too often about the legitimacy of ministries and missions beyond the local expressions of church. For the sake of the gospel and the kingdom, Sam helps us break out into a new and deeper understanding of the apostolic and local. We must take seriously and practically the seminal teaching of this volume."
"For many years I have pondered the often apparent disconnect between the local church and vibrant missional movements. At a time when western Christianity is facing serious decline, Beyond the Local Church presents a biblically and historically sound perspective that speaks to this core issue that must be addressed if the growing secular masses surrounding us are to find the hope, joy and love of Jesus. The book is a clarion call: it is time the western church returned to the fullness of what it means to be Christ's church on earth."
"No matter what your ecclesiology may be, Sam Metcalf presents challenging and provocative ideas regarding the apostolic calling of the church and how this should inform the way we view and affirm apostolic organizations and structures that have often been considered 'para' church. This is a great read for those praying for gospel movements throughout the world."
"This is a book that has needed to be written for a long time. Now it is finally here and in your hands! What better person to write it than Sam Metcalf, who has spent his entire adult life spawning these apostolic movements of which he speaks. What I love about Sam and his style is that this is not classroom theory, but truth from the trenches. I could not agree more with the words, 'These apostolic missionary structures existed by the design and plan of God. They were never afterthoughts.'"
"Sam Metcalf has given the best definition and understanding of 'apostolic ministry' I've ever seen. Beyond the Local Church might challenge your understanding of and/or calling to apostolic or local church ministry. For me it brought clarity. Along with others in different ministry contexts, I wish I could have heard this perspective much earlier. If embraced, missions movements and local churches around the world could be transformed."
"Sam Metcalf writes out of research and experience with freshness, humor and passion. The church as a whole desperately needs to catch up with what he calls the ministries of both left and right feet, in order to walk as God intended. We need to open our eyes to how God always intended the church to be. Sam shows the basis for this in both testaments, as well as in church history, ancient and modern. The recovery of the sodal as church, linked to multiplication of churches as normal, is vital if we are to see healthy missional movements. Both have been urged since the 1970s in the US and UK, but largely ignored. I trust this book will be a marker that their time has now come—at last."
"Sam Metcalf has written a book for the post-Christendom phase of church history. For centuries the West enjoyed the security and power of a culturally established church that exercised dominant influence. Most people identified themselves as Christians, whether they lived that way or not. They belonged to churches, confessed faith in the Apostles' Creed and adhered to a Christian morality, broadly speaking. Christianity was the air they breathed. No longer is that the case. It is time to rediscover and implement models of ministry that succeeded in winning the very culture that is now drifting from faith. At the center of those efforts were apostolic people, ministries and movements. Sam Metcalf makes a cogent case for why the apostolic calling has never been more necessary. He marshals historical, biblical and contemporary examples to make his point, and he does it well. I was overwhelmed, convicted and inspired. It motivated me to think about teaching church history with this vision in mind, and to keep my eye out for leaders who can fulfill this apostolic calling. This is the kind of book that will lead us into the future."
"For many years now, I've been encouraging Sam Metcalf to articulate the valuable contribution that apostolic teams, leaders and organizations make to the mission of Jesus. Provocative and insightful, this book can challenge your thinking about what it means to be the church. Although you may not agree with everything, this book will help you sharpen your perspectives and strategies."
"Beyond the Local Church confirms the rightness of pursuing a healthy relationship between the local church and those ministries that operate outside of its direct control. This book will bring healing to those who have been hurt or alienated by the lack of understanding regarding the biblical nature of the church and the complementarity of the local church and apostolic ministries in their wholehearted pursuit of God's redemptive agenda on earth. Beyond the Local Church is another salient call for the whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world."
"Thank God for a treatise that celebrates the role of the apostle in the continuing expansion of the kingdom of God in this and every generation. This is the manual for the misfits who lead the charge to the spiritual frontiers!"
"This book is important for anyone considering God's calling to vocational ministry. From Scripture, history and personal experience, Sam Metcalf not only persuasively validates and affirms ministry beyond the boundaries of the local church, but builds an impressive case for such ministry being necessary for movements of the gospel. If we take this message seriously, the spiritual trajectory of the western world could be reversed."
"Sam Metcalf has written a book some will find provocative, outside the lines and perhaps even testy, from a number of perspectives. I found this effect neither unusual nor unfamiliar, for I have known and watched Sam for a long time. His is not the ordinary fare. What no one will question is the intensity and passion he brings to the mission, which has been reflected in the many years of leading his folks to take the gospel to unchartered territories, to those who do not have it, and who perhaps think initially they do not want it. His life is his most persuasive argument."
"For anyone concerned about individuals and groups that work outside of the established church, this book will hopefully put your mind at rest. Sam Metcalf challenges our assumptions about the role of the local church, missionaries, control and accountability, and offers a biblical and historical basis to free up those with apostolic calling to do what they do best—creating new forms of church as spiritual entrepreneurs. It's as applicable in Central Europe as it is in North America!"
"This book by Sam Metcalf is the primer that has been missing for releasing and establishing dynamic apostolic work and 'sent' church systems that are complementary, rather than merely subservient, to the local church. I fully expect to pick up this book regularly. I already have a list of people to whom I would like to give a copy! Not only does Sam have a grip on the array of literature on mission, he has also been a practitioner and leader in the field covered by the literature for many years. I sincerely trust what he has to say and, more than that, my heart was strangely warmed on a number of occasions. I love the way Sam honors the local church while clearly laying out a profound and passionate case for the restoration of the pioneering and game-changing part of the church. Rather than just inviting people to settle with us we need to enhance and enable pioneers who will boldly go, and indeed people to release them. Sam is writing for all these: the local church leader such as myself who earnestly desires to reach more people with the good news of Jesus than those who might come to church; those who love the local church and want to grow it but feel constrained by it; those with a sense of history and know that God has already given to his church the tools for opening a new chapter in its mission. This book helps me understand myself and gives joyful voice to truths I instinctively resonate with but didn't know how to articulate. Let this be a valuable tool in order that we dust down and release a fresh band of brothers and sisters to establish churches in cultures and subcultures currently in a thrall to the 'good advice' of this world, but remain untouched by the good news of Jesus."
"In my decades of building research teams to fight cancer, the most enabling element for highly talented, multidisciplinary teams is data. In the same way, Sam Metcalf paints the landscape of those answering the call to go and make disciples using real data from real apostolic movements. This should rally local churches while also emboldening those called to take new ground for the kingdom. Wisdom to affirm apostles who go as well as pastors who shepherd locally is to be gleaned from the pages of Beyond the Local Church. Academically, biblically and empirically sound, this workbook of the Spirit will enlighten and activate those seeking to advance the kingdom proclaimed by Jesus."
"Sam's book is a clarion call to the church in the West to urgently rediscover the sodalic nature, calling and leadership of the apostolic charism and the essential apostolic structures it must create for apostles to flourish and the whole body of Christ to be fruitful and multiply. At great cost to the advancement of God's kingdom, many apostles have been at best misunderstood and at worst rejected by the institution of the church, reporting feeling more at home in mainstream culture where the soil for entrepreneurship is more fertile. Sam helps us consider how an apostolic gifting and environment forge the way for all the other charisms to thrive missionally with deep insights and conviction."
"To agree or not to agree, that is not the question. Whether you agree with the book's evaluation or not, Beyond the Local Church will stimulate you and your leadership to deeper and better conversations on how God moves both in and beyond the local church. As a pastor and co-laborer with Sam for many years, I have been challenged and enriched by the material in this book for a long time."
"Anyone reading this book will be both challenged and encouraged. I've been involved in pastoral ministry for fifty years, and yet as I read this book, I felt the Holy Spirit moving me to be involved in something very alive and very powerful that would reach large numbers of people with the good news of Jesus. I plan to band together with some like-minded people to see such a movement in my own area."
"I've known Sam for forty years, and I can say that few men have impacted me regarding my understanding of ministry and the contribution I could make—and who have encouraged me and given me hope in ministry—than Sam. He helped me understand the differences and symbiotic relationship between the local church and mission organizations, which he so clearly and succinctly spells out in this book. This topic has unfortunately been the focus of many conversations during our years in ministry together. I say unfortunately because it is unfortunate that this book has had to be written and unfortunate that these issues have not been settled years ago in the body of Christ. It seems we always have two responses when someone gives such a clarion call: we either respond like Noah's audience, who laughed and mocked until the flood came, or like Jonah's audience, who repented and were saved. Sam Metcalf is one of the most intelligent, insightful and focused men I have ever had the privilege of calling a friend and colleague in life and ministry. Few are as qualified and experienced to address this topic with such credibility and passion. Sam does a great job laying out the problem between parachurch and local church and the tensions that seem to exist between the two, and he has given clear, proven examples and methods that could go a long way toward solving these tensions. He speaks with forward-looking clarity, courage and resolve, making many sobering observations about the gravity of the situation in Western culture and how the church continues to loose relevancy and respect. Apostolic ministries desperately need the local church, and the local church desperately needs apostolic ministries. I just hope those reading this insightful and important book will respond like Jonah's audience more than Noah's!"
"Beware: this book is dangerous to the ministry status quo. By recovering a biblical and historical ecclesiology, Beyond the Local Church is a must-read for any ministry leader—local church or otherwise. It's a daring vision for the release of many multiplicative and fruitful movements through full kingdom partnership. I'm in."
Foreword by Alan Hirsch
1. The Power of a Balanced Anatomy
The biblical genius and design for apostolic structures and movements
2. Limping or Leaping Through Time
The encouragement of apostolic missionality in history
3. Mother Teresa Wasn't a "Para-Catholic"!
Why "parachurch" is a dirty word
4. So What Is "Apostolic"?
The oft-neglected essential to authentic missionality
5. Holy Discontent and Sanctified Ambition
The apostolic imperative of Ephesians 4
6. Setting Visionaries Free
Pioneering as a second decision entrepreneur
7. Finding Second Decision People
How to engage and release apostolic leaders
8. Running Together!
The exponential leverage of interdependence
9. Movements of God
The extraordinary results of apostolic gifting lived out in apostolic structures
10. The Momentum of Movements
To kill or to multiply, that is the question
Conclusion: Be a history shaper
About the Author