Blame Newbigin? A Response to Dr. Anthony Bradley

A friend of mine recently linked on Facebook a blog post from Dr. Anthony Bradley of King’s College in New York City about the closing of The Village Church, which was a church plant of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC.

Bradley doesn’t provide much commentary at all, except to suggest that such churches in the Newbigian spirit are just a fad.  Elsewhere, Bradley has made his opinion about so-called missional churches known in his accusation that such movements might be legalistic.


I have immense respect for Dr. Bradley and I agree with a good amount of his commentary.  I hope his denomination listens to his voice more often on issues of race, leadership, and culture.  However, I would balance this discussion by pointing Bradley and others to an article by Mike Breen titled, “Why the Missional Church Will Fail.”

In summary, Breen says that discipleship is the engine of the church, and that “If you make disciples, you will always get the church. But if you try to build the church, you will rarely get disciples.”  Breen continues, “We are a group of people addicted to and obsessed with the work of the Kingdom, with little to no idea how to be with the King.”

I think it is too simplistic to say, “See those Tim Keller churches are just a fad” or “None of these new Reformed church plants are really reaching lost people.”  I’ve heard some say such things, but it is unfair and unrealistic.  The issue is discipleship.

Maybe instead of seeing ‘missional’ is a new legalism we might be seeing people making ‘being missional’ into an idol.  An idol is taking a good thing and making it into an ultimate thing.  That seems like a better thesis than ‘missional is legalism’.


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