I was recently at a conference of the Urban Ministry Institute (www.tumi.org) which is engaged in inner city church planting and leadership training. What is surprising is that they are very strong on what they call “Sacred Roots” or the “Great Tradition.” By this they mean that essence of the faith that is “shared by all, everywhere” within the church. This is summarized by the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed.
The other part of this, what makes it well suited to urban ministry is the commitment to the big story of what God is doing in the world. It can be summarized in a variety of ways (note that the Apostles Creed, particularly on Christ is something of a story, “…born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate…”.
The big story is that God the creator of all things has sought from all time to redeem and rescue a people from all nations by the advent, life, death, resurrection and ascension of the Lord, who with the father has sent the Spirit to guide his people through the scriptures. This is God’s victory in Christ over the ancient dragon. One day we will enter fully the City of God, but now we are building the reign of God through our worship, witness and service to Christ.
This is grist for the mill at several levels. One idea, however, is that this idea shares a few things with the old Schofield Bible narrative – it is a story, not a mere list of doctrinal points, it is clear and compelling, it celebrates Christ as the central actor, it puts the Christian life in a context of something bigger than the individual or a congregation, it gives a summary of the scriptures, and it is accessible to people who do not have academic degrees.
This is also similar to my Reformed and Baptist friends who insist that every sermon ought to be tied to Jesus or to “redemptive history.”