Gone Native

Back in centuries gone by, one thing the church worried about when it sent its missionaries among native peoples was that the missionaries would so identify with the native culture, challenges, and peoples that they would forget the Gospel and the cultures from which they came.

What if that is exactly what is happening to the church itself in the 21st century (at least the North American Church by and large).

Can we tell the difference, outside of our houses of worship, if someone even believes in God or not?

How often does God enter into our conversations?  I don’t mean by this the concept of God, what God has done in the past, or what God will do in the future (a removed and more academic, philosophical, or historical question).  But rather, how often do we talk about God as One who is with us in the present?

We were created for more, to believe in more, and to be more.  If we are indistinguishable from the culture at large, unchanged in any real way from those who never decide to be God’s people, have we forgotten who we really are?

There is a river moving fast through our culture which says that:

~ We are here by chance.  No one is looking out for you but you.

~ Having as much “stuff” as you want and protecting your “stuff” is the core of freedom.  Survival of the fittest is really true (if we have stuff, we deserve our stuff, and others clearly don’t)

~ Beware of others, really fear them (they want your stuff!)

~ Protecting your “stuff” and having total freedom to do with your “stuff” what you choose is the most important issue around

It is not what God taught.  It is not what the Bible says.  It is not what Jesus stood for, died for, and rose for.  But we are drinking it down, not just in our culture but in so many churches, by the gallon.

It is time for us all to re-evaluate what it means that there is a God.  A God who made us, a God who created us for eternity, a God who called us to love him with all our hearts and souls (and others as ourselves), and a God who calls on us to store up treasure which will never degrade.

Our culture has been changing the church of late far more than the church has been changing culture.

Let’s remember where our real native land is.

Until next time,

Tom

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4 thoughts on “Gone Native

  1. Tom, Our conversations via Face Book reveal that we view the world quite differently (and I believe this is a good thing as this is one of the ways the Spirit challenges us to explore, question and grow) . . . and so it may come as no surprise to you that I don’t agree wholeheartedly with your contention that culture is changing the Church (or more to the point the people who are the Church) . . . rather I wonder if it is not really both/and . . . culture is changing the Church (perhaps in some areas for the better) and the Church is not going out into culture to transform culture with the Gospel . . . this is not to suggest a blurring of separation of church and government, but that we are called to continue the work of welcoming the Kingdom of God into and onto the earth. Too often, as I have written I believe the Church is closed off from their community.

    Although the Celtic strand of Christianity is linked with John the Beloved, I believe these words attributed to the Apostle Paul speaks to the Celtic way of evangelism.

    Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it! . . . 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 The Message (MSG)

    If you haven’t read Hunter’s book on the Celtic way of evangelism I have included a link for you . . . http://i.b5z.net/i/u/696577/h/krueger/newsletter/archive/0402/index_files/page0003.htm . . . the Church and her members are called to leave the comfort of our physical sanctuaries to venture into our communities (the places where God planted the particular church) and to share the Gospel in both words (that reflect the language of the community) and actions (in meeting the physical. emotional needs of those in the community) so that they will enter into personal relationship with believers so they will come to recognize the power of God in people’s lives.

    Egad, I should be packing, but felt compelled to respond. Keep up the conversation!

    Grace and peace,

    Lisa

  2. Lisa, we just parallel sometimes but sometimes not. 🙂

    80% of the people in our culture consider themselves a Christian. Very high numbers of them feel they can do this just fine without ever venturing into a church. Church is the desert on their plate of life and they can choose to go without and enjoy their meal just fine.

    I do not see people in the church walling themselves off from culture. Church people today do not just hang out at church and only with their church friends. More and more, you have to convince folks there is a compelling reason to come to church. They view it as unnecessary in their spiritual walk.

    That said, I totally agree that like Paul we need to go and be with people where they are. Church members must venture out because people aren’t just going to come. But it isn’t that they are unfamiliar with the culture that surrounds them. It is that they are uncomfortable bringing that aspect of their lives (their faith) into play outside of the church. We all are to a degree. But being a person of faith was never meant to be easy.

    When there is contrast between what people experience in the world and in the church, the church is likely to grow (as it does in Africa, India, and China today). When the church is very much the same as the culture around it and the contrast is weak, people do not feel drawn to it.

    We often see the problems the same but come up with different solutions. But I totally agree the conversation is most valuable.

    I will go back and read more on Celtic Evangelism. Thanks for the link and the comments Lisa.

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