Thursday, August 23, 2012

Missionary Challenge

"The Church's missionary challenge in the West today is complicated by the fact that most western populations have been exposed to some distorted or diluted expression of Christianity that inoculates people against the real thing."
George G. Hunter III, How to Reach Secular People, 1992

Hunter's provokative quote highlights a recurring theme I am finding in my recent and current study about culture, mission and Trinitarian theology.  It seems that in the Church's attempt to evangelise the lost, instead of attracting people, we find ourselves increasingly alienating people from the Church.  If Bill Hybel's conviction that the "local church is the hope of the world" is true (which I believe it to be), then something has gone seriously wrong in the delivery of the message!  

I find myself getting frustrated and even angry at times when I see the gospel get hidden within a form of 'churchianity' that presents a "distorted or diluted expression of Christianity."  Theologian Clarke Pinnock goes as far as suggesting that atheists are “not rejecting the God of the Bible – they haven’t even heard of him!”  I think there is a confronting truth that the Church needs to explore if we are going strip away our religious cultural baggage that inhibits our ability to effectively communicate a life transforming message in a culturally appropriate way.

The missionary challenge is to preserve the integrity of the gospel message so that the people we are reaching have an encounter with the biblical God through Jesus Christ, not a pop-version of God who is formed in our own image.  Hunter warns against a "hash" form of Christianity that is a concoction of "patriotism, moralism, cultural values like materialism and the quest for the perfect 'high', with some wisdom from celebrities, mixed with selected bible verses."

Maybe we need to rediscover Jesus in our churches so that He may be revealed through our lives in a way that invites people to ask, "we want to hear you again on this subject" (Acts 17:32).



    Interesting blog by deyoung.

    1. Very interesting blog Chris. I do think that his point about the Gospel is a 'both and' truth, that is, the Gospel is BOTH lifestyle and theological in nature. Thanks for sharing.

    2. Have you got Scripture to support that view? This is a genuine ask.

    3. Jesus call to the disciples to leave their nets and follow him or to the rich man to sell all he had to follow him, was an invitation to a radical lifestyle change. The Acts 2 church demonstrated how the gospel impacted the lifestyle of the believers and how that impacted their community. While, Romans provides us with the theology of gospel.

    4. Do you see 1 Thessalonians 2:8 as making a distinction between the Gospel and our lives?

    5. Not when you consider that it was Paul who said, "it is no longer I that lives, but Christ that lives in me." The gospel transforms our lives so that the message we share is an integrated part of who we are. The distinction in this verse, I think, is to highlight that the message was spoken in the context of relationship.

    6. How would you define the Gospel and is it commanded that we are to preach it?