The central questions of ecclesiology, in our time as in all others, remain stark and straightforward: to whom or what do we belong? To what body do we pledge our allegiance? What commitments do we recognize as those to which all others must bend or bow?
That’s how the “About the Ekklesia Project” starts off! Questions that REALLY gets to the heart of the matter …
For too long, such questions of ultimate loyalty and allegiance were kept at bay by most Christian churches. The Church as the Body of Christ–the material, living community that crosses all borders and human divisions–has been too easily and often compromised and fragmented by unwise accommodations with states, ethnic and racial imperatives, and the naturalized imperatives of class, gender, and ideology. By minimizing or denying the distinctiveness of the life of discipleship–a set of affections, dispositions and practices learned within churches faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ–too many churches have turned the clear and unambiguous call of Jesus and the Holy Spirit into a confused and contradictory mix of caution and self-interest.
The intent of The Ekklesia Project is to remind the church of its true calling as the real-world community whose primary loyalty is to the Body of Christ, the priorities and practices of Jesus, and the inbreaking Kingdom of God. In doing so, The Ekklesia Project will work with, within, across, and beneath existing churches and structures.
Members of The Ekklesia Project are drawn from a wide range of Christian traditions and legacies. Included in our number are mainline and evangelical Protestants, Catholics, and persons influenced by the Anabaptist tradition. We are scholars, pastors, lay church leaders, and writers. After much prayer, study and reflection, we have come to see that the time is right for initiatives aimed at church-centered renewal within the Christian family, and that increasing numbers of people are becoming aware of the limits of the so-called Constantinian bargain that compromises the Gospel in order to cultivate good relations with secular institutions of political, economic, and social power.
We envision The Ekklesia Project as a means to provide coherence, leadership, and vision to some of the still developing, occasionally inchoate, stirrings of discontent and reappraisal within the Christian community. We hope to remind all Christians of the spiritual ties we share, and the real-world solidarity and allegiance God intends of His church in a world of lesser loyalties and commitments. By calling attention to the Body of Christ as our “first family” in the world, we aim to put discipleship and a picture of the church as an alternative community of practices, worship, and integration at the center of contemporary debates on Christianity and society. This is the vision we share and the reality we seek.