Archive for post-Christian
In this third installment of interview videos with Michael Frost, he deals with the question of the purpose of the church. Frost proposes a wonderful metaphor of how he believes the church should function.
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Here is the second installment of an interview with Michael Frost–co-author with Alan Hirsch of The Shaping of Things to Come and REJESUS. In this segment, he speaks of a majority in the west that are “disgusted, repelled, disturbed, [or] want nothing more to do with [an attractional model of church].”
The U.S. State Dept (2004) estimates that 600,000 to 800,000 men, women and children are caught in international human trafficking every year. A majority of those are female and half of them are children. This unthinkable crime is happening on an epic scale.
Anne Jackson, author of Mad Church Disease and prolific blogger, is increasing awareness about human trafficking in Eastern Europe and Russia–some of the main exporters to Western Europe and the U.S. prostitution industry. Please check out her thoughts throughout the week to learn more about the modern day slave trade and possible ways to be involved in acts of mercy and justice for those involved.
- “We have to assume now that all mission is cross-cultural.” ~ Alan H
- “It’s not that the church has a mission, but the mission has a church.” ~ Alan Hirsch
- (Speaking about planting churches,) “I’m not even sure what we are trying to do the world wants.” ~ Shawn Lovejoy
- “If you do church to reach church, then you’ll reach somebody else’s Christians.” ~ Hugh Halter
- “The [Christian story] is a peasant’s movement.” ~ Hugh Halter
- “…community has to be the witness now.” ~ Hugh Halter
- “You cannot sell a Christendom approach to a post-Christian world. They are anti-Christian.” ~ Alan Hirsch
- “Go among the people. Don’t assume you know what church looks like.” ~ Alan Hirsch
- “You plant the gospel. You don’t plant churches.” ~ Alan Hirsch
Two men walked into a village to tell the people about the Savior. The peoples did not show any interest in believing or even seeking a full understanding of the story. One villager told the men that here they worshipped the spirits, but if their God is so powerful, then they should have Him make the tree where the spirits dwell to fall over.
With the conversation over, the two men began to pray early in the day for this very thing to happen. At noon, they continued praying on the edge of the village, close to the tree. In the evening, they continued praying. Throughout the night, they continued praying. Just before dawn a few villagers began to stir outside. They turned as they heard cracking sounds begin. The tree began to move as it cracked and popped with force. Then in a swift motion it crashed down into the village. Immediately the villagers came running to see what had happened to the tree where they had previously felt compelled to worship the spirits. Seeing the power of “the God,” they heard the story and many believed.
Today, whether living in a post-Christian, animistic, or other context, there is a deep and abiding reality that we would do well to remember:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
We must increase our efforts in prayer. I must pray more than ever before. May we:
Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Happy New Year! Let’s roll….
Yesterday’s post had part 1 of this conversation. It is really good video. Part 2 here is worthwhile, but part 3 is essential. For 3 to make sense, best to do 2 first. After the second portion, it appears that Stetzer & Fitch agreed (even requested) to have the camera turned back on in order to communicate some things very important to both of them. Very worthwhile.
Above Ed and Dave provide their perspectives on whether mega churches can be missional. A lively and fun discussion.
After a few minute break whilst shooting the conversation (see end of Part II “…you’re wearing us out” then laughter), Dave and Ed came back with some final thoughts on the importance of the church telling a new missional story.
This missional conversation between Ed Stetzer and David Fitch treats the meaning (and growing lack of meaning) of the term missional and what that means for church. Many thanks to Bill Kinnon for making this and other quality videos available.
Produced by Toronto’s mkpl.tv for the blog kinnon.tv and the new social network, Missional Tribe, this video features Ed and Dave in conversation about what missional is, missional vs attractional and missional church & converts. Engaging, funny and yet serious, these two well known writers and missional commentators help expand our understanding of missional.
According to research (chart below and here), the U.S. is increasing in spirituality while religion wanes. This study and others like it are not consistent with the views of several contemporary atheists such as Harvard chaplain Greg Epstein. A USA Today article–Atheism 3.0 finds a little more room for religion–shares this trend.
How are we to reconcile that religion is increasing while religion is decreasing? While there are several possible explanations, I will offer one that I feel is plausible–besides the possibility that this iteration of an atheist view is just starting to be published and may have impact in future numbers. (The following is a hypothesis based on anecdotal experience, not research.)
Spirituality involving thoughts and ideas associated with God are increasing. This is evident in the increase in the number of “spiritual” shows and movies as well as research results. Also increasing are acts of kindness commonly referred to as social action, but this does not appear to be included in research. An increase in social action is evident by the increase in socially active organizations and ideas ranging from clean water for third-world countries, human trafficking awareness, micro loans, etc. When researchers ask most U.S. respondents about religion, I suspect that respondents are expressing their opinion or experience on consistent religious activities whether it be a Protestant, Catholic, Mormon, Islam, or other expression of ritualized church attendance. When this is an expression of anything–be it faith or process–that does not include action–making a positive difference in people’s lives–it is rejected as hollow by a growing number of people. The religion atheists are embracing according to the article is that of doing good and being good citizens. Epstein states that: “When our goal [as atheists] is erasing religion, rather than embracing human beings, we all lose.”
I would propose that future research include questions about belief in God or someone higher than ourselves; the importance of doing good for others; and frequency attending a religious ceremony. Both the research and the article point to a post-Christian reality. Both also point to the need for followers of Christ to incarnationally live out their faith in deeds.
Last night I took my lovely wife to the Rob Thomas concert. We have always been intrigued by the significant amounts of truth in his lyrics. As we were called to a “celebration of music and life” by each of the three acts, there were times where the logic just did not follow. For example, early on, Carolina Liar’s singer, Chad Wolf, spoke of this celebration that we had gathered for and then dedicated the song to all the people that hated their jobs and could barely stand to get out of bed. For some reason, I questioned whether or not I was ready to celebrate this particular angst. But all in all, it was an enjoyable night and a very good show.
Each of the three acts had songs that spoke of the search for something that was real and true and worthwhile. Also, themes of love, redemption, and forgiveness were addressed. A few songs that may be worth checking out include Carolina Liar’s Beautiful World and Show Me What I’m Looking For as well as One Republic’s Someone to Save You and Come Home.
My favorite song of the night was Thomas’ opening number–Fire on the Mountain. This is a song written in a post-Christian, immoral world where justice is crying out to be heard. His lyrics can speak, I believe, to the church. What it says to the church will depend on the church itself. For some it may be a call to action. For others it will be a call to change the music ASAP. The lyrics are here for consideration, but I encourage you to give it a listen to get the intensity of the problem and the emotion that the “eyes wide open” church might encounter (Frost, Seeing God in the Ordinary).
Fire on the Mountain by Rob Thomas
Fire on the mountain
Through the fields
There’s evil in the garden
But you don’t see it
I can tell
How do you sleep while the city’s burning
Where do you go when you can’t go home
How do you drink when there’s blood in the water
Where do you turn when the world moves on
When the world moves on
Fire on the mountain
You can feel it
Against your skin
You’re standing by the river
Let the river take you in
I see smoke out on the horizon
Mama get your baby
Take her down to the water
I feel the wind like a promise broken
I see the future but it’s getting farther
If you take the time to give it a listen, consider talking with other believers you walk life with and envision a video that depicts the world about which Thomas sings. Then have a re-listen and redo your story boards with the visual being the church on mission that is living like Christ.
According to data results released with an article–“How Spiritual Are We?“–from Parade Magazine this past weekend, the U.S. population has a strong belief in God, but we are not a religious people. Whether measured by “How important is religion in your life?” or “How often do you attend religious services?” the answer comes out roughly at some 30% or less. While there are many ways the information could be interpreted, this is taking the position that for those that have religion as the most important thing in their life or that attend religious services once or more times a week as being “religious” people.
Belief in God remains high, but the post-Christian surge continues as 38% are less religious than their parents. This move toward a post-Christian society reflects societies that are further along in this move in Australia and Europe according to other results and anecdotal observations (more on this in future posts).
Another key finding is the 71% that do not hold that their religion is exclusive or “closest to the truth.” Once again, signaling a post-Christian U.S. culture, this also is indicative of the relativistic, post-modern aspects of society. With the majority (59%) saying that all religions are equal in validity, it appears that most people in the U.S. would adhere to the tenet that all roads lead to heaven or some other place or state of being or some other closely held non-conviction or some other conviction that is loosely held…. (smile)
Parade Magazine does not provide information on gender, age, socio-economic status, ethnicity, etc. regarding survey respondents. Based on distribution methods for the magazine, I would venture a guess that the data results reflect a high number of middle to upper-middle income level families with more females completing the surveys than males. If this assumption is correct, then it is a reasonable guess that these numbers are possibly skewed toward a more religious sub-set of society than the whole of U.S. culture. My expectation would be that a broader group of respondents may cause the number of those that are religious to drop as well as those that are more religious than their parents, although belief in God would, I am willing to guess, remain constant.
A few weeks ago my wife and I were visiting a weekly Bible study group for the first time. Everyone was kind and welcoming of us and the lost friends accompanying us. The teacher was both humble and prepared. The group responded to a ministry opportunity that was presented. And then it happened….
One regular in the group shared that she had brought a friend of hers to the group several weeks ago. This friend, she relayed, was someone that she had been praying would come to Christ for a long time. So excited to have her coming for the first time, the group participant conveyed that she could barely wait to find out what her friend thought. In the debrief between friends, the visitor shared that she did not feel that she could be a part of the group because she did not know enough about the Bible. She was convinced, probably accurately, that the other participants knew so much more about their Bibles. Sadly, she has not been with the group again, nor does it seem that she plans to do so.
Challenged with a charge of being too heady in the disciple-making process, the group shared their surprise and disbelief for maybe a full 60 seconds. Then it was back to trying to mine truths out of the passage being studied that day.
This seems to be in stark contrast with the gospel narratives. “Come and see” is an invitation to encounter the Savior. I can only think of one time where Jesus questions how much the disciples know–though this examination is more a challenge to their beliefs rather than their academic acumen. “Who do men say that I am…Who do you say that I am?” (Mt. 16:13-20) Even at this point, Jesus provides grace in deficiency. Just before Jesus returns to heaven, we read that “they worshipped him; but some doubted” (Mt. 28:17). In response, Jesus commissions them to make disciples as they go. He does not mention or encourage academic emphasis or testing. Jesus’ instructions are to teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. Sounds like it could be turning academic, maybe. Perhaps this would be a good time to review how Jesus teaches, or better yet how he models, obedience to his disciples.