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.
Sam Metcalf is president of CRM, a worldwide ministry focused on pioneering new ground among the unreached and unchurched, bringing lasting transformation among the poor and mobilizing the church for mission. He also coordinates CoNext, a global partnership of CRM-like entities in eleven nations. Sam holds a master's degree from the School of Intercultural Studies at Fuller Seminary and a doctorate from the Fuller School of Theology. He and his wife Patty live in southern California and have two children and four grandchildren.
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.
professor of Christian ministry and leadership, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University
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.
president, OC International
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.
lead pastor, First Evangelical Free Church, Fullerton, CA
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.
-J. Robert Clinton,
retired professor of leadership, School of Intercultural Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary
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.
executive director, nexLeader, Association of Biblical Higher Education, former president, Missio Nexus
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.
-Kenneth G. Elzinga,
professor of economics, University of Virginia
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.
senior strategist, Intel Corporation
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.
international president emeritus, The Navigators
"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 leaderlocal church or otherwise. It's a daring vision for the release of many multiplicative and fruitful movements through full kingdom partnership. I'm in."