Mix the articles, books, and blogs I am reading currently. Then sprinkle in the emotions I’ve been feeling during all of the recent (and am sure to feel during future) transition in my life and you get the following thoughts. I am posting these mainly because they will be easier to access here than in an old Moleskine. Who knows…maybe these thoughts will serve well as a sermon series or book in the future (or both). Either way, feel free to comment if I strike a nerve.
Given the trend of mainline denominations, the stated missions of hierarchical institutions are no more than cheap platitudes. Instead, I believe the next great awakening will be a micro level phenomenon, rather than macro, similar to how the first Christians grew from 11 to 120 during Jesus’ ministry. Discipling relationships, motivated by evangelical urgency, are the only way to reverse this trend and these relationships are possible at the micro level only, as opposed to dissemination of information (e.g. lecturing); which is a macro level tool.
I am not convinced that Jesus Christ himself ever intended for the church to be a public institution. Perhaps the “Messianic Secret” (e.g. Luke 5:14) was for the purpose of keeping the faith a marketplace subculture in order to redeem the larger culture, rather than becoming a religion in which “Christian” has become an adjective (e.g. Christian music, Christian bookstore, etc.). Perhaps Jesus never intended all of this to “go public.” The church still seems to thrive within those societies who forbid its practices and tends to flounder over time in those societies who accept Christianity as mainstream.
We are at an extremely important crossroads for the church in America. Although we tend to believe that our country is, or at least was, a “Christian nation,” I would argue that until recently the typical American lifestyle loosely paralleled moral commitment similar to that of Judeo-Christian belief. Therefore, in the past, the American lifestyle could mesh easily with the adjective use of Christian. This is opposed to a firm commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ about which we read in the New Testament. The American lifestyle is currently developing into a new normal that no longer parallels the Judeo-Christian moral compass. Therefore, we as part of the church in America have a new task before us. I think this is a great opportunity to redeem all aspects of society from a loving, relational posture.