I just finished reading Kent Carlson and Mike Lueken’s book, Renovation of the Church (IVP Books, 2011). What an interesting and thoughtful read! I saw myself and my church in their story many times. The last chapter was especially intriguing, where they sought to cast a vision for the future. Borrowing a metaphor from Dallas Willard, they encourage the church to establish “beachheads.”
A beachhead is a term describing an invading army moving onto the shore of the nation they are invading and establishing themselves in enemy territory. From this beachhead, the military is able to bring in fresh troops and all the necessary supplies to establish new front lines in order to advance on the enemy. Once the beach has been taken, a command post and a field hospital are established there. And the beachhead becomes a secure place to stockpile supplies.” (176)
Applying the metaphor to the church, Carlson concludes:
“We no longer believe that the task of developing churches was foremost in Jesus’ mind (referring to the Great Commission [Matthew 28:18-20]). We believe that Jesus was referring to something similar to the concept of establishing beachheads for the kingdom of God. Planting churches undoubtedly will be a natural and necessary development of this perspective. Churches will be the organizational headquarters, the command post, the field hospital, the place where the resources are stored and given away. But our purpose is to provide followers of Christ with the necessary tools so that they can establish new front lines where the Kingdom of God is breaking out.” (177)
Lately I’ve been thinking quite a lot about the purpose of the church. How can we best fulfill the Great Commission? Are we really advancing the Kingdom of God in our community? Where are the new converts? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but the beachhead metaphor gives me pause.
Are we providing the tools that followers of Christ need to be able to establish new front lines for the Kingdom of God? May the Lord guide us as we seek to move our church in this direction.