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Insider Church

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Craig Ott  


Introduction: Insider Movements and the Church: Setting the Stage 

PART 1 Toward a Biblical Vision of the Church 


Church in the Divine Drama: Narratives and Themes of the Church’s Identity 


Clarifying “Church”: Six Dimensions 


Contextualizing “Church” 

PART 2 Toward a Fresh Appraisal of Insider Church 


Clarifying Insider “Ekklēsia” 


Evaluating Insider “Ekklēsia” 


Implications for the Insider Movements Conversation 

Epilogue: Recommendations for Multiplying Biblical Churches among Muslims 


Subject Index  

Scripture Index  

Insider Church
Ekklesia and the Insider Paradigm
S. T. Antonio

Insider Movements = Church-planting Movements?

In the last few decades, the Church has witnessed a growing harvest of Muslim-background believers coming to Christ. However, a divide remains over whether the “insider” paradigm contributes to the flourishing and multiplication of healthy, biblical churches among Muslims. S. T. Antonio advances this conversation beyond the old arguments through a fresh analysis of the insider paradigm by asking the question, What is church? Starting with the identity-shaping narrative of the people of God, Antonio digs deep into the nature of biblical ekklesia from multiple angles—local and universal, visible and invisible, the classical "marks" of the church, and missional identity.

Combining a robust, biblical vision with a nuanced contextualization framework, and informed by firsthand ministry among Muslims, Antonio uncovers the roots and contours of the ecclesial vision of the insider paradigm. Insider Church provides an innovative diagnosis of a paradigm that has been surrounded by controversy, challenging it with constructive analysis for multiplying biblical churches among Muslims. This integrative study draws together biblical, theological, and missiological scholarship in service of Christ’s mission. Insider Church helps guide mission practitioners, leaders, and students toward a wise assessment of insider movements and a vision for church multiplication that is both fruitful and faithful to the Lord of the harvest.


  • Insider Church offers a fresh and helpful analysis of an important phenomenon in the missiological world today. By spotlighting the watershed issue of ecclesiology, Antonio brings greater depth and clarity to the implications of the insider movement paradigm. Antonio strives to give the movements under discussion a fair and even-handed treatment. The concluding chapter’s evaluation of each of the six key aspects begins with strengths found in the insider paradigm before moving to address weaknesses and offer helpful recommendations. I affirm his well-substantiated summary that “the insider movements paradigm simultaneously supports and undermines the biblical nature of the church.” I recommend this book as well-researched, soundly biblical, and thoughtfully written—a valuable contribution to ongoing missiological discussions about God’s work in advancing his kingdom in the Muslim world.

    Dave Coles 

  • Insider Church offers readers a balanced exploration and healthy critique of the major issues surrounding insider movements. It is a must-read for everyone interested in the topic.

    Gene Daniels Author of Searching for the Indigenous Church

  • Making disciples of Jesus in frontier contexts is a venture filled with risk, excitement, and uncertainty. We still have much to discover, especially regarding the types of churches that are yet to be developed. Insider Church provides us with a robust, biblical ideal worthy of our goals. This book is a comprehensive ecclesiology that pioneer workers involved in church multiplication will be referencing for years to come.

    Warrick Farah, DMiss Missiologist, One Collective Co-editor of Margins of Islam: Ministry in Diverse Muslim Contexts

  • Great doctrines require great voices. Some blaze forth God’s truths as visionaries, others defend truth as apologists, still others harmonise reconcilable differences as peacemakers. Antonio is the latter. Antonio writes into a known controversy in order to promote better understanding. He follows Paul in giving “honour to whom honour is owed’ yet auditing how both parties fall short in their ecclesiology. He uses “strength” and “weakness” equally in the text (30x) as he searches for both good kingdom yeast and unbiblical Islamic yeast. Aware that he cannot “settle the intractable debate and controversy,” he resists the temptation to pronouncing whether insider churches are legitimate Biblical churches. He concedes insider “churches” are embryonic in nature but in desperate need of the right DNA based on the whole counsel of God from Scripture. You will be drawn into a fresh chronological treatment of God’s household and offering excellent ecclesiology rubrics for the Old and New Testament.

    Rev. Benjamin Lee Hegeman, PhD Career missionary with SIM in North Benin, West Africa Co-founder of the Lilias Trotter Center

  • I have long agreed that ecclesiology is one of the most overlooked issues in current missiological discussion. This is true within the insider movement controversy, certainly, but also within the entire evangelical missiological enterprise. "Church" is one of those words that everyone thinks they understand until one begins to define it! As such, Insider Church is a timely and important contribution well beyond the insider movement context. As an advocate of insider movements myself, I also want to add that the author took great pains to reach out to myself and others for input and comment. As such, while we will continue to differ on important topics, the book models a truly crucial approach, much needed in this hour of history: a better way to seek understanding before seeking to be understood.

    Kevin Higgins General Director, Frontier Ventures President, William Carey International University Long-term worker in South Asia

  • In this well-crafted and considered book, S. T. Antonio brings his considerable theological acumen and missional experience to bear on the question of how and whether insider movements make not just disciples but the churches that will strengthen and sustain discipleship over the long-haul. Antonio is at once generous and principled, eager to learn from insider advocates and think creatively about the nature of the church, while remaining steadfast in his commitment to a biblical vision of the church, even in sensitive and insecure contexts. I cannot imagine a more timely or effective addition to the current conversation about mission in the Muslim world.

    Matt Jenson Professor of Theology, Torrey Honors College, Biola University Co-author of The Church: A Guide for the Perplexed

  • Antonio has written a penetrating and irenic study of insider ecclesiology that highlights most of the positive, innovative aspects of insider advocates’ understanding of church and then systematically, yet graciously, critiques its shortcomings. I believe that Insider Church, has significant potential to break some of the deadlock between deeply held positions. Antonio clearly examines beliefs about the nature of the church held by many advocates of the insider paradigm (that are sometimes implicit and unexamined), and then offers a gentle but compelling series of biblical and missiological critiques. Whether you are new to this vital conversation, or long enmeshed in it, I strongly encourage you to take the time to read this invaluable contribution.

    Don Little Missiologist, Pioneers and director of the Lilias Trotter Center Founding facilitator of the Bridging the Divide Consultations Author of Effective Discipling in Muslim Communities

  • Insider Church provides a wise, biblically and theologically informed, and missiologically sensitive perspective on one of the most controversial missiological issues today. The author is not only thoroughly at home in the relevant academic literature, he is also a seasoned practitioner with significant ministry experience among Muslims. Both sides of the debate will profit from this thoughtful discussion.

    Harold Netland, PhD Professor of Philosophy of Religion and Intercultural Studies, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School Author of A Trinitarian Theology of Religions: An Evangelical Proposal

Additional Details

  • Pages: 236
  • Publisher: William Carey Publishing
  • Binding: paperback
  • Publish Year: 2020
  • ISBN: 9781645082729
  • Vendor: William Carey Publishing