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Local Church Experiment

To respond to the needs of the world

The transformative purpose of the Local Church Experiment (LCX) was to provide churches with tools to REFORM congregations from an “individual-needs” focus to addressing the NEEDS OF THE WORLD, strengthening the practice of “loving thy neighbor as thyself.”  The intent was to renew the human spirit in the socio-religious context of the local church.  

 

The three-fold mission of the historical church would be the basis of the experiment:

    • to bear witness to the Word that heals the human spirit;
    • to be a catalytic power to see that justice is imparted to all people; and
    • to live as a sign of hope in a style that demonstrates possibility.

The LCX was launched at the Global Research Assembly in 1970 as a six-year experiment with the purpose of taking churches on a journey towards their own renewal through a theological renewal based on putting the Christian scriptures into action.  This section provides the history of this work and stories of churches who participated in the LCX. 

Joseph Mathews supported the developing stages of the Local Church Experiment:

    • In the “Church of Our Times” Mathews offers a frank critique of the church as it attempts to live in antiquated times. He said the church needs a new “social gospel”… in mission to humanity.
    • In the Summer ’72 Opening Plenary, Mathews proclaims church renewal is already done and the renewal of the globe is next. He calls for a New Social Vehicle, a spirituality of care, that requires a practical vision, tactical system, operational design, and spirit training.
    • Shortly before his death in 1977, Mathews shared his vision of the church with Monsignor Egan:

” We tried to get the established Church to see that it’s not about peddling abstract dogma but about awakening men into life and significant engagement in the historical process so that they might truly experience the glory of life through intensification of consciousness and intensification of’ engagement. The hope that is God ‘s hope belongs to humanity. The joy that is unspeakable is of the Lord. The peace that passeth understanding is yours – on loan from God, of course. I hope the Church breaks through its provincialism of defending the doctrine of Church members into concern for all humanity which will save the Church and purify it.”