Archives For missional church

There was a thing that happened on the internet, in DC and in the poorest countries on earth last week.

A lot of people were hurt. A lot of people felt the need to draw line in sand. There are a few dead bodies on mountain tops.

I’m not one of them.

There are two reasons I’m not overwhelmed by this:

  1. I’ve never really understood evangelicalism.
  2. Handing out bacon keeps me busy.


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Let’s Admit We Have a Problem

For hundreds of years, common wisdom assumed that the countries of the West were Christian nations.

This concept began when Constantine declared Christianity the official religion of his empire. It was reinforced with the advent of Protestant National churches. Then, beginning with John Winthrop’s famous “City on a Hill” sermon in 1630, civic religion and cultural Christianity became intertwined in the institutions of the United States.

The result was that Westerners were generally considered “Christian”. Individuals often had a normative level of Biblical literacy. Institutions, government, and leaders were assumed to espouse “Christian values”. In this “Christendom” system, conversion often meant claiming membership in a specific denomination and church attendance. Politicians were expected to attend Church and govern in “Christian” ways. There was little discernible difference between being a good citizen and a follower of Christ.

For decades now, these institutional structures have been breaking down. Most countries in Europe are predominantly secular and often skeptical of religion. The U.S. does not seem to be far behind. Stuart Murray defines this “post-Christendom” as:

the culture that emerges as the Christian faith loses coherence within a society that has been definitively shaped by the Christian story and as the institutions that have been developed to express Christian convictions decline in influence (Stuart Murray, The Naked Anabaptist, 78).

This means that forms of churches that might have thrived under Christendom are either showing diminishing returns or have failed altogether.

Followers of Christ in the west now have the opportunity to define themselves apart from the expectations of their culture. Conversations are thriving around the word “missional,” as churches and Christian organizations seek to understand what it means to be missionaries in this new post-Christendom context.

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Recently, I became convinced we needed to expand the online conversation happening around the Church. It seemed there were (in general) three types of posts being written by bloggers. There are harsh critiques, sometimes prophetic, other times just mean. There were academic ideas that were hard to grasp. There was cheesy stuff no one wanted to read.

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with any of those. I’ve been guilty of writing all three on this blog.

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What I think we need is a third type of discussion, which I’m calling “Boots on the Ground.” By that, I mean sharing real life stories and practical, actionable ideas. This probably won’t gather as much traffic, but maybe it will provide some missionaries the encouragement they need to keep going.

Last week, a Facebook group was launched to share these stories. Now, we’re prepping for our first ever synchroblog. Here’s how you can participate:

  1. Write a post on the prompt “Share a story about one moment where you experienced what you think Jesus had in mind for ‘the church'”.
  2. RSVP here, or email Chris Morton if you want to participate.
  3. Use the graphics here.
  4. Publish the post on April 8.
  5. Post your URL on the Boots on the Ground Facebook page.
  6. Promote each other’s posts via email & social media on April 8.

I hope you’ll join in!

There’s a lot of tasty controversies we can talk about online.

And you know I have my opinions.

While I occasionally chime in, I’d like to offer an alternative. Let’s ALSO make it a point to tell our “boots on the ground” stories about what is happening in our attempts to live the missional life.

Here’s our Facebook Page. I hope you’ll join in and invite your friends.

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Is 2014 the year of American Atheism?

Chris —  December 30, 2013

The UK’s Daily Telegraph has some important thoughts on the secularization of America:

My point is that the religious geography of America is changing – partly as a result of immigration (Hispanic, chiefly) but also because the Washington Post maps show how washed out and feeble Catholicism and mainline Protestantism have become. They may occupy the same territory that they did 50 years ago, but the Post’s map below tells a dismal story…

..Let’s put this simply: America is secularising just like Europe – and all that talk of “American exceptionalism”, the free market in religion that kept it thriving, has turned out to be hogwash. We can discuss why on another occasion. But some of us saw this coming a long time ago. And, please, don’t kid yourself that Pope Francis, wonderful man that he is, can do more than add a percentage point here or there.

With 2014 just a few hours away, how will you and your church approach these changes?