What happened to Christendom?
In Christendom many people attended church, sometimes by legal constraint. In this context churches could legitimately speak of faithfully proclaiming the gospel, because each Sunday they has gospel-centered sermons. This is no longer the case. We cannot claim to be faithfully proclaiming the gospel to the lost through our Sunday preaching when most of the lost do not attend church. We need to do mission outside the church and church events. This is something we need to recover rather than discover, for the modern evangelical movement was born out of a recognition that the United Kingdom was not a Christian nation and that it needed to be evangelized outside of church buildings and services. p. 27
Living like missionaries
Imagine you woke up one day to discover that you had become a missionary in a foreign land. The language, the culture, the worldview, and the values are all unfamiliar. Fortunately you are part of a team. What are you going to do? Together you are going to learn the language and the culture. You are going to explore how the Bible story interacts with the outlook of the people around you. You are going to try to connect with them at a relational level. This is the situation in which the church in the west finds itself. The culture has moved on. It is not what it was a hundred years ago when it was significantly shaped by the Bible story. We need to wake up and realize we are in a missionary situation. We cannot continue to undertake mission in a pastoral mode. We cannot assume that people feel any need or obligation to attend church. We cannot even assume we understand the culture. We need to operate as missionaries in a foreign land. p. 37
When living like a missionary is just rhetoric
Claiming that the West is a mission field is now common, but there is a big gap between the rhetoric and the reality of our attitudes. One of the measures of that gap is the extent to which we are willing-or unwilling-to learn from the experience of the mission and the church around the world. If we really believed we are in a mission field, then we would all be reading books written by third-world Christians and cross-cultural missionaries. We would be looking to operate as missionaries to another culture. p 40
As we are marginalized will we see culture as a threat?
It is so important to love your neighborhood and its culture. As we sense our growing marginalization with the wider culture, it is all too easy to view it as a threat. But viewing the culture around you as a threat is not a good starting point for reaching people with the gospel. p.45
Should we try to be more relevant and do cool church events?
But it is a mistake to pursue relevance as an end in itself or to emphasize how we are like the world around us. For one thing our “product will always be inferior to that offered by Hollywood, Facebook, and Nintendo. Brits spend 20 hours a week watching television, Americans 28 hours. We are entertained by multimillion-dollar movies. We undertake role-play and action computer games. We are naïve to think the church can compete with these stimuli through three songs and a thirty minute sermon or drama and a worship band. We cannot compete on entertainment. At best this distracts us from the need to create distinctive communities that communicate a distinctive gospel, a gospel which more often than not grates with the wider culture. At worst the medium becomes the message, and the challenge of the gospel is lost among the entertainment or watered down to make it palatable to the audience. We have already seen that in a Post-Christian context we cannot rely on church events however cool, because the majority of people will not attend church. p 49
Programs are what we create when Christians are not doing what they are suppose to be do in everyday life.
Because we are not pastoring one another in everyday life, we create accountability groups. Because we are not sharing the gospel in everyday life, we create guest services. Because we are not joining social groups to witness to Jesus, we create our own church social groups. Please do not misunderstand. We are not against meetings or programs. The regular meeting of the church around God’s Word is vital for the health of everything else. This is where God’s people are prepared for works of service. But the works of service take place in the context of everyday life. p. 50
Celebrating ordinary Christians
It is not simply that ordinary Christians live good lives that enable them to invite friends to evangelistic events. Our lives are the evangelistic events. Our life together is the apologetic. There is a place for meetings at which the gospel is clearly proclaimed, but let us affirm and celebrate ordinary Christians living ordinary life in Christ’s name. p.89
What is step one in evangelism?
Step one in evangelism is being passionate about Jesus. Step two is being passionate about people-not just seeing them as evangelistic fodder or targets for gospel salvos, but as friends, people to love. Love will care for all their needs-physical, social, emotional-but gospel love also recognizes our greatest need, which is to know God through Christ. So true love will always want to introduce people to our greatest friend, Jesus. p. 93
Mission by being good neighbors
Once upon a time a group of largely middle-class graduates in their mid-twenties moved into a deprived neighborhood. Three made the first move, and they were gradually joined by others. There are now ten in total, a combination of marrieds and singles, male and female. There is nothing remarkable about these people. None of them are hard-core or edgy. There is not a tattoo among them as far as we are aware. Initially the plan was to plant a church. A lot of time was invested in recruiting leaders, but to no avail. For some time this failure to plant a church was a cause of considerable frustration, animated conversation, and earnest prayer.
As this was going on, the Lord quietly got to work. How? Through these ordinary, unassuming individuals doing nothing more spectacular than being good neighbors. They were not a church (they attended a church elsewhere in the city). They did not hold meetings or do formal evangelism, nor did they significantly change the way they spoke or dressed. They just lived there-all very ordinary and unspectacular. Nothing they have done would mention merit in a missional manual, but over a few years they have built credibility in their neighborhood through simply being the neighbors everyone would want to have. They do have a corporate identity: they are known as “the Christians.” p. 97