by Natalie Gessert, M.Div. senior
The Rev. Greg Boyd has served as senior pastor at Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minn., since 1992.
The wry humor is not lost. But what does it look like to live a truly cruciform life? A life beyond poking fun at the daily grind? The Rev. Greg Boyd took up this question during February's Aus Lecture, "Advancing the Cruciform Revolution: A Kingdom Perspective on Evangelism."
To live a life molded to the work of Christ, a cruciform life, is to manifest the whole life in service. Boyd takes care to notice the details of Scripture. A particularly important passage for him comes from Ephesians 5:1-2: "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." Boyd notes, "This [text] is a bullseye for what it means to live in the kingdom. He gave his life while we were yet enemies. This is our call for all people at all times."
For Boyd, imitation of God's work is true evangelism. Evangelism takes priority in discussion these days among Christians. This work of drawing those who have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ into the life of the Christian church is a primary goal. Boyd says, "Contrasting to the world, I am going to suggest, is intrinsic to evangelism." Evangelism begins in the most basic units of church life: in the home. Boyd organized and leads a house church, and believes it is a crucial unit of faith development. This small group worships, prays and supports one another in all matters of daily living.
Boyd serves at Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minn., which hosts 4,000 members each weekend. Boyd calls out the 59 statements of "one another" in the New Testament, highlighting how constant and detailed attention to one another is the benchmark of faith communities. He says, "You can't do that with 4,000 people. Maybe with 10 or 12.We are called to live in close-knit communities and reflect love with one another. You can't do that with strangers on the weekend." Boyd is attempting to create a network of house churches as smaller units of the greater church population.
Dinner and Bible studies are key to the house church model, both for the immediate worshipping group, but also to serve those who are homeless or have mental disabilities in the community. Why does Boyd serve in this way? Because this is what it looks like in the world to literally have hands stretched out, cruciform to the work and love of Jesus Christ.
Evangelism is a two-fold matter; actions completed in words. Boyd says, "In a classical model there has been a divorce between words and good deeds. If we are the church in close community, both inside and outside of our fellowship, that is to be the primary draw of people into the kingdom."
For Boyd, the bottom line of evangelism is a "kingdom approach," or leading a cruciform life to the person and work of Jesus Christ. As Boyd puts it, "A kingdom approach to evangelism is focused on living like Christ lived and loving like Christ loved. While we use words when we have to, our main message is our life. People are to be drawn into the kingdom by the beauty of our self-sacrificial love."
Aus Memorial Lecture
"Advancing the Cruciform Revolution: A Kingdom Perspective on Evangelism" Greg Boyd, senior pastor,Woodland Hills Church, St. Paul, Minn. View Greg Boyd's lecture at www.luthersem.edu/lectures/aus where past lectures can also be watched.
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