The glum cacophony of voices bemoaning the state of the church in North America present a bleak deconstructionist’s portrait of the future. It does not look good. With the diagnosis comes heaps of questions clamoring for immediate answers:
- How does the rise of the “nones” and “dones” influence our missiology?
- How does the pervasive nature of racism and associations within evangelicalism influence our posture toward the marginalized, particularly in urban centers?
- How has the lingering implications of our unwavering embrace of church growth paradigms neutered the mission of the church?
These are important and necessary questions that are, unfortunately, often met with more hand wringing than thoughtful solutions. When authentic attempts are made at devising answers for the future, they often presuppose our current sociological and ecclesiological realities as the starting point for envisioning the future.
Perhaps this is the wrong place to start.
Maybe we need to look a little further into the past. Maybe a lot further.
This isn’t the first time the church has faced a hostile culture, lost its voice in a secularized world, or cowered in the face of political foes from every side. Many of us have never been here before, but God’s people certainly have seen worse days.
Before we propose any future strategy, we must first root our activity in the history of God’s kingdom work throughout redemptive history. After all, history is his story.
Which forces us to ask the big question: “What does God want?” Not, what does God want to do with the challenges facing the church in North America? We will get there in time.
But, what has God always wanted for his people?
There are those in our day who are basing their missionary strategy around just such a question. Christ Together, a unified collective of like-minded churches and leaders have rallied around this central question. They believe God wants every man, woman, and child in their cities to have repeated opportunities to see, hear, and respond to the good news of Jesus Christ through the witness of God’s people in the places they each live, learn, work, and play.
In short, they believe that God’s desire is for the gospel to saturate a place. This answer, they suggest, is rooted in the Missio Dei as revealed throughout the Scriptures.
This holistic vision provides far-reaching implications for leaders of the church. Gospel saturation compels the churches of a place to work together to see every man, woman, and child engaged with the gospel. Church collaboration moves from a nicety to a necessity. Anthropocentric scorecards of success must be overhauled.
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SOURCE: Christianity Today, Jeff Christopherson