John Howard Yoder says that communal practices like baptism, the eucharist, the opening meeting, and binding and loosing are the Gospel, in that the good news “is by definition always public; it is proclaimed in the open…it cannot be esoteric or private and be news.” Yoder warns of the influence of market mentality: The way for these communal practices to be good news is “not to try to please some marketplace or live up to someone else’s prior picture of what is credible.” These practices “do not make the individual the pivot of change. No trust is placed in the individual’s changed ‘insights’ or ‘insides’ to change the world. The fulcrum for change and the forum for discernment is the moral independence of the believing community.”
These practices are not introspective or otherworldly. They are not only for the individual, and in fact, they do not exist merely for the sake of the church. Such practices ultimately exist for the world. They can be “spoken of in social process terms, which can easily be transposed into non-religious equivalent that a sociologist could watch. People who do not share the faith or join the community can learn from them.”
It imperative to collapse the difference between “means” and “ends,” to eliminate the differentiation between the Church and the message it proclaims. The Gospel cannot be communicated on its own apart from the community that is the church.