Friday, December 24, 2004

"If the postmodern, emergent church represents the future of evangelicalism, then I can safely say that, after 22 years as an evangelical, I'll be looking elsewhere for my spiritual home. Maybe somewhere pre-modern."

Bill Reichert; Rolling Hills Estates, California

I read that editorial letter in Christianity Today with some shock... I guess somehow I missed the previous issue, which had an article or an interview with Brian McLaren. I know that I don't always agree with Brian McLaren, but he has some really good points.

One point is this: the Church has been doing things in certain ways for a long time. Some churches adapted stylistically to reach Baby Boomers (funny how the ones who first did that and did it well are now adapting again to adequately reach more recent generations for Christ). Others (painfully few, imho) have attempted to do something to reach GenXers. But it seems like most are fine with doing things the way they were done in the 1950s, when "church attendance" was expected, when "church" was "a place you go" instead of "a people you are." When usage of archaic words was fine, because everyone had grown up using them to talk of God. When hymns from a hymnal were fine because that was the technology of the day. When giving messages with a 1-2-3 points and you're out was fine because most people thought in a linear manner (and if you followed these 4 simple steps and said a certain prayer, you were a Christian). I don't mean to belittle these methods, because they were right for their time. But it's no longer that time and those methods don't cut it anymore!

If the church hopes to grow in the 21st century; if we plan to reach new people with the unchanging Gospel of Christ, we have to adapt our methods. This doesn't mean we dilute the message (that doesn't work!) -- it means we must find adequate ways to do it. If we don't, we'll become what Europe is today: a post-Christian mission field. Wait. We already are...

So, Bill Reichert, if you're planning on jumping ship because you don't like the "new" stuff, I personally think that the emergent church is more "pre-modern" than you are jumping to; it better approximates the Acts 2 church than anything from our modern era. So jump ship if you want, but don't come crying to me when your church is dying and can't afford to pay the mortgage on your cavernous monstrosity of a building with empty pews.

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