Imperfect Church, part 8

Steve Sjogren’s seventh path, Inclusive, is inaptly named for us in the mainline churches. When we use the term “inclusive,” we’re usually talking about gender/racial/ethnic boundaries. Sjogren uses the term as synonymous with (or very similar to) what others call “assimilation” – drawing people into the Body and connecting them with others and with the mission of the church. Rick Warren uses the baseball diamond to diagram Saddleback’s system of inclusion/assimilation. Like Warren, Sjogren identifies four stages, but he rejects that model in favor of a circular model, recognizing that people continually cycle through the stages.

For Sjogren, we all start off in the hospital. We come as broken, sinful people in need of healing. In the Family, those who have (and are) experiencing healing are joined together and gain a sense of belonging to each other. After we learn to experience the koinonia that comes from family, we move to the School where we acquire skills to live life in a godly way and to be useful to God’s Kingdom purposes. Finally, healed, joined, and equipped, we become part of God’s Army, working in ministry to achieve His purposes. Since we work in an unfriendly, dangerous world, we find that before long we have new injuries and need t spend some time in the hospital again.

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