Saturday, March 12, 2016

Disappearing Church

When talking about his new book at TwoCities, called Disappearing Church From Cultural Relevance to Gospel Resilience, Mark Sayers said,

I was driven by a conviction that something radical was changing culturally, and that the Church was struggling to not just catch up but articulate this shift. For decades now the Church has relied on the strategy of cultural relevance to engage Western culture. The premise of this strategy was based on two great assumptions. First, that Western culture had entered a kind of post-Christian phase, and second that the best way to engage this post-Christian phase was through employing strategies and tactics learned on the mission field with pre-Christian cultures.

This was the strategy that ultimately created the contemporary church movement. I am not suggesting that the strategy of cultural relevance has not been fruitful nor that we should abandon it. The strategy of cultural relevance works well in pre-Christian or traditional cultures where the gospel can be communicated into and built around local symbols, stories, traditions, conventions and structures. However, the mood behind the post-Christian culture of the West ultimately seeks to deconstruct and contest all symbols, stories, traditions, conventions and structures. How do you apply a strategy of cultural relevance in a Western context which liquifies culture? Missiology emerged as a way of engaging non-Western traditional cultures without colonizing them. In our post-traditional West, the danger is that when the church engages the cultural solely with the strategy of cultural relevance, too often the church is colonized by the post-Christian mood. I am suggesting that alongside the strategy of relevance we need a strategy of resilience. Not retreat, but cultural engagement with robust resilience.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well said. This phenomenon has led to a schizoid mentality and aesthetic in American evangelicalism. Go to church, and everything is based on popular culture and everyone is talking in Surfer Dude or Valley Girl slang. But the same people are passionately touting classical education, the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, and the wonderfulness of life before the '60s. Then they wonder why their children are confused.