Thursday, November 07, 2013
Church, Not Event
“The culture has changed, therefore the church must change.” That refrain, whether expressed or assumed, is the dominant motif of much of today’s church literature. And almost always, I’m unconvinced. Too often evangelicals mistake superficial trends for tectonic shifts. And too often we simply mirror the culture, as if what the world really needed was for the church to be just like it.There is a lot of wisdom there. We tend to think of "church" as a location or event, but it is not. Now even that statement is cliche' for many. But the cliche' stops there - no one goes on to say what church really is.
Tim Chester and Steve Timmis’ new book Everyday Church does highlight recent shifts in Western culture, and it calls for churches to change in response. Yet refreshingly, their analysis of culture and prescriptions for change hit the mark just about every time.
POST-CHRISTENDOM EVANGELISM FOR A POST-CHRISTENDOM WORLD
The main premise of Everyday Church is that churches in the United Kingdom, and increasingly in America, are facing a post-Christendom world yet relying on evangelistic methods left over from Christendom. For generations we have tended to subsist on capital generated by a church-saturated culture, but now that the culture has shifted underfoot we are overdrawing our account.
When church occupied a central place in the culture, we could expect people to come to us. So church growth proponents of various stripes focused on providing the best Sunday-service product as defined by the tastes of a targeted clientele. But now, increasing numbers of people simply have no background in church and no desire to go to church. We cannot entice them to come to us, which means that we have to go to them.
Click here to read the whole review.
Certainly there is a place and a need for gathering, but church is more.
There is the old "body of Christ" thing, but this too seems to ill-defined.
Or is it? Quick - define a "cat." Did whatever you come up with adequately distinguish between a house cat and a mountain lion? I bet not. The point? Living things are hard to define and even harder to control, because you cannot control what you cannot define. And i think that is the heart of the problem. We want the church to be something well-defined and controllable. Yet, it is anything but. It is a living breathing organism, full of will (and ill-will.)
But, like most organisms one of its basic purposes is to grow and reproduce - if we will only let it.