It matters that the church be transformational. Both among the people who comprise its membership and in its effect toward the surrounding community, the local church is a tool for life transformation to the glory of God.
In this second volume of the Transformational Church series, Jeff Iorg uses the church at Antioch as a case model for what many consider the model missional church in the New Testament. As the third largest city in the Roman Empire, Antioch had much in common with today's cities. Iorg writes, "Antioch was a large, complex, multicultural, city—a perfect precursor to the missional setting of the church in the twenty-first century." Our world is becoming complex and multicultural, but the answer still remains the same.
God has chosen the church to make known His manifold wisdom. In His sovereign plan, God uses the church and its imperfect members for His perfect plan. Yet, even the believers in the New Testament were flawed and frail, like us. Yet, one church has a consistent good reputation in the New Testament—the church at Antioch. The New Testament tells of its troubles and triumphs.
Jeff Iorg has chosen to tell the story of Antioch in the context of the overall struggles, challenges, and triumphs of the larger first-century church context. Struggles with the law, inclusion of the Gentiles into the body of Christ, and missionary outreach were the context surrounding this city where the disciples were first called Christians. Again we see a similar context to our time with our expanding, yet changing missionary outreach, a shift in the global center of God's kingdom, as well as economic upheavals, cultural challenges, and religious pluralism.
Does God's Word have a message for churches in our time? Jeff answers with a resounding, "Yes!" and that word can be found in the example of the church at Antioch. With a ministry background well out of the comfort of the "Bible Belt"—having pastored in the Pacific Northwest and leading a seminary in San Francisco—Jeff Iorg is uniquely qualified to address this subject.
Thom Rainer and I noted in the first book in this series, "The concepts of transformation and church play off each other, complement each other, connect to each other. And when you put not just the nouns transformation and church together . . . but put together the actual occurrence of transformation and the community of people called church, the result is powerful. . . . [It's] transformation and church the way God designed them to be."1
Jeff Iorg, The Case for Antioch (Nashville, TN: B&H Books, 2011).