Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Exiles - Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture

Sorry for the posting delay! Blogger was apparently having problems last week. Upwards and onward!

Once Christians felt at home in the United States. Laws favored morality. Prayer was practiced in schools. Our civic leaders were expected to be Christian, and they always were. Churches were at the center of the town square, symbolizing their central place in society.Now, however, things have changed.

Laws are being overturned. Other faiths and moralities are not only tolerated, but promoted. Employers band Christian talk but celebrate alternative lifestyles. And many look everywhere but the church for Spirituality and are hostile towards Christians. We are in exile.

In an upcoming sermon series, I'll address these issues. I would love to hear from you on this. What challenges do you face as a Christian at work or at home? How can we best respond to these challenges?

9 comments:

Dale's Spot said...

Hey James. Hope all is well. I am thankful for you and your work. It is exciting. As you perhaps have heard I left the friendly warmth of GW to go work with a start up congregation in the fast growing city of Spring Hill. It boasts being the 14th fastest growing city in the US. The church has about 100 folks, we have outgrown our temporary building and will move into our second temporary buidling in November. We have 35 acres of prime property we are developing. It is fun - and challenging.

If you have not, you NEED to read the relatively new book "Godless" before you preach this series.

In His Care,
Dale Jenkins

Dale's Spot said...

By the way. You can read about my decision to leave on my blog under a post titled Living Courageously

dj

James said...

Dale,

I am thrilled to hear that you have taken the awesome step of planting a church! I am so glad to hear about your decision and that the work is going well.

Thanks for the book tip.

James said...

Last week I went into Starbucks and chatted with a young woman manager that I had met. I told her that we would like to have a Spiritual discussion group, since many people have a problem with churches and church buildings. She said that she was one of those people.

Then she gave me tips for starting this group. She thought that having it "offsite" at a Starbucks would definitely help reach more people. Calling it a discussion group was good. And she recommended having a question and answer session and discussing Spiritual growth issues. She was very helpful--and then said that she would be interested in this group.

To live missionally both individually and as a church is to recognize that we no longer live in a Christian nation, if we ever did. We must go to where people are physically, culturally, and Spiritually. The word mission means sent, and therefore we must go into the world, not expect them to come to us.

MattSmith said...

In school, especially up in New England, bringing God into school was pretty much a no no. But those that believed, continued on. But we still learned about Christianity. Never really about Jesus, but that was where Church came in.

I want to ask... "Other faiths and moralities are not only tolerated, but promoted." .. do you not support people believing in what they will? Religious tolerance is what the country was founded on.. and while prayer cannot take place(even though I've seen it done... ie: Football games), there are the reasons for this.

Unfortunately, this is probably going to sway your opinion of me... but Homosexual, Another Religion, or just a downright mean person .. I have no problem with. I have friends in each category.. Jesus walked with the lesser of society, and society has made them just that.

The last time "alternative lifestyles" were not tolerated, around 20 people died in the Salem Witch Hunts... and lets not get into the Crusades...

MattSmith said...

It's cool about Starbucks though, would be awesome to see peoples reactions, and see if we can get any more members or atleast visitors out of it.

James said...

Matt,

It is good that you have friends who are of other faiths and who are out in the world. We should love all people genuinely, and hopefully we will have an opportunity to share Christ with them. If not, we love them anyway because Christ loves us unconditionally.

I do believe that Christ is the only pathway to the Father. Jesus himself made this claim. And while I seek to love all people, both hetero and homosexual, the Bible does speak against homosexuality. But those involved in this lifestyle must first hear a message of love before they hear a message of condemnation and Christ's call to repentance.

In general, I believe that we are best at reaching the world not through laws but by seeking to be Christ to the world. I draw a line on practices that hurt those who are young or who have no freedom of choice (i.e., abortion, predation of children).

As distrurbing as the changes in our society are, we should remember that The early church had not a single law in its favor, and yet it thrived. God's will will triumph in the end.

Vasquez Adoption Experience said...

Hey dude,

Once again, I'm excited about the ideas and points you're wanting to tackle. Thanks for being one who sheds light in darkness.

You mean, people don't like it when we beat them over the head with the Gospel and enforce them to convert to something they either don't understand or don't fully like? haha.

Boy, that's what the Today Show and Dateline NBC would have us all think. I recently saw a story about an evangelist who believes he's the second coming of the Messiah. He was Mexican, and being Mexican myself I know that's not true. I've seen pictures of Jesus, and He doesn't look like this guy. haha.

But seriously, at the end of the day, are we really surprised by what we see? We are fighting a world where pictures of an unmarried celebrity couple's newborn take center stage. We are fighting a world where reality television promotes gay marriage, sex and cut throat board room degrading over the reality of Christ. I am often times a realist with a little pessimism sprinkled in and continually feel we're taking one step forward and two steps back.

The President admits his greatest moment in life was when he committed himself to Jesus Christ yet people don't buy into his decisions. I can't imagine how difficult it is being the leader of the free world.

Ann Coulter in her book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism, makes light of the fact that we are on a steady decline. She blames liberalism, but isn't that really just sin coupled with free will? It all adds up to less and less morality.

I hear the same questions resonating from people I meet, "Then, why do bad things happen to good people?" and "Why do those who want nothing but themselves seem to prosper?"

A group like this could help answer questions like this and build up those in and not in the group. God's gift of life is a gift we need to help pass on and it's not something that will be done by staying at home or hanging out with people we already know.

The hard part of forming a group is not "forming the group" or making a plan or inviting people or finding a location. The hard part is actually doing it. It's saying we've done as much groundwork as we can so now we're just going to do it, come what may and know that God will bless the effort.

Like I said, I'm excited about this and I would like to help you in any way I can.

James said...

Marc,

You said: "We are fighting a world where pictures of an unmarried celebrity couple's newborn take center stage. We are fighting a world where reality television promotes gay marriage, sex and cut throat board room degrading over the reality of Christ."

This is so true. We have to as a church wake up and realize that we are not in Kansas anymore. People are skeptical of us, of the church, of anything previously associated with power in America.

Part of this is due because darkness doesn't like the light. Part of this is because either we or others in Christ's name have at times been judgmental, hypocritical, and much worse.

We must reach people with open hands, without weapons, powerless except for the message of Christ. And that should be enough.

I'll keep you posted on the group. Glad to have you help!

James