A huge religious marketplace has been set up in North America to meet the needs and fantasies of people like us. There are conferences and gatherings custom-designed to give us the lift we need. Books and video seminars promise to let us in to the Christian “secret” of whatever we feel is lacking in our life: financial security, well-behaved children, weight-loss, exotic sex, travel to holy sites, exciting worship, celebrity teachers. The people who promote these goods and services all smile a lot and are good looking. They are obviously not bored.
Michael Spencer, the iMonk advises some of us to take a break from the church.
The current church growth, church guilt, megachurch wannabe mentality is damaging thousands and Christians. It’s messing up families and stealing years of time that isn’t coming back. It’s fostering codependency with sick church leaders who need help themselves.
God isn’t impressed. He didn’t sign on to this, and he isn’t requiring you to live like this.
David Fitch on his presentation to Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
I believe that evangelical church in its attempt to reach those without the gospel has accommodated itself to the languages of individualism, the habits of consumer capitalism, and the organizational forces of American business. We could do this because we have viewed salvation as largely an individualist transaction instead of the participation of God’s people in the cosmological salvation of God through the person and work of Jesus Christ. We could do this because we placed such faith in secular discourses like modern science and business technique (apologetics, business principles of leadership). In the process we have organized church life around the busy lives of Americans living the dreams of capitalism and democracy that leave little time for mission, community and worship. I fear the “church” for evangelicals has in George Hunsberger’s words, “become the distributor of religious goods and services.” As a result, I fear we evangelicals are becoming less and less noticeable and barely distinguishable as a people from the rest of our society who live as if God does not exist.
Ed Brenegar reviews Al Roxburgh’s The Sky is Falling
From my perspective as a consultant to churches, becoming more missional is the only hope that many churches have of surviving another generation. I believe it is that significant a movement. That doesn’t mean that it is an easy thing to make the transition to being a missional church. Only that it is probably the only rationale that gives reason for the continued operation for many churches.
Roxburgh translates a fair amount of academic research about cultural, social, organizational and ecclesiastical change into a very digestible feast of insight for pastors and church leaders. It is the kind of book that a Session should read together. Its value is in providing a perspective that gives a basis for understanding why conditions in many churches are so difficult.
Stephen Prothero in Christianity Today on a series of books from Oxford University Press – the Seven Deadly Sins:
What is missing from these books—and from contemporary American culture—is a sense that something is missing from this world. With the notable exception of Thurman’s Anger, there is little awareness here of the incompleteness and unsatisfactoriness that Augustine took for evidence of another life, and that saints from Mary to Mother Teresa have taken as a charge to make this life conform to our imaginings of the next. Quoting Baudelaire, O’Connor once wrote that “the devil’s greatest wile …is to convince us that he does not exist.” If so, this is a wily series indeed. [HT: Touchstone Mag]