Radical Renewal: The Problem of Wineskins Today
By Howard Snyder
Radical Renewal is an updated reprint of Howard Snyder's classic book of the mid-seventies, The Problem of Wineskins. The premise of the book is taken from Jesus' words in Matthew 11:17: "Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved."
Snyder's theme is clearly that God's plan was and is today to use the church to impact the world for His kingdom purpose. But that will only happen as the church is willing to change its "wineskins" so that the wine can expand to new dimensions for God's glory. The problem, however, is that we tend to institutionalize the church—making sacred the means and methods of ministry. In short we have to again get our focus on the wine rather than the wineskin!
Chapter 4 deals with three areas where we need to change our thinking: sacrifice, priesthood and tabernacle. All three passed away with the birth of the church. They are wineskins, and yet it is our constant temptation to re-institute them - making the church building sacred as our tabernacle, the pastors our priests and the Eucharist our sacrifice.
The church is not the building! In contrast, the church had it's greatest impact in the first and second centuries before it had buildings. "It thought 'church' meant people, the community of disciples. In those days the church was mobile, flexible, friendly, humble, inclusive—and growing like mad!" Nor is the church the work of the pastor. "If the pastor is a superstar then the church is an audience, not a body." Rather, the church is a movement—God's ...