According to an article published by Tim Keller in 2001, the church has lost its privilege (Christendom) in the culture in part for these reasons:
- cruelty and hypocrisy – “Christian morality without gospel-changed hearts” (Keller)
- silence of the church over issues of abuse from ruling powers against the weak.
And this decline started in the mid 19th century!!!
Keller points out five ways the Church in N.America can be missional:
- discourse in the vernacular
- “The missional church avoids sentimental, pompous, ‘inspirational’ talk . Instead we engage the culture with gentle, self-deprecating but joyful irony the gospel creates. Humility + joy = gospel irony and realism.
- Enter and re-tell the culture’s stories with the gospel
- “In a missional church preaching and communication should always assume the presence of skeptical people, and should engage their stories, not simply talk about “old times.” Our culture cares about justice (inclusive) and to be authentic (safe world).
- Theologically train lay people for public life and vocation
- “In a ‘missional’ church, the laity needs theological education to ‘think Christianly’ about everything and work with Christian distinctiveness. They need to know: a) what cultural practices are common grace and to be embraced, b) what practices are antithetical to the gospel and must be rejected, c) what practices can be adapted/revised.”
- Create Christian community which is counter-cultural and counter-intuitive
- “In general, a church must be more deeply and practically committed to deeds of compassion and social justice than traditional liberal churches and more deeply and practically committed to evangelism and conversion than traditional fundamentalist churches. This kind of church is profoundly ‘counter-intuitive’ to American observers.”
- Practice Christian unity as much as possible on the local level
- engage with other church and para-church communities so that Christian love and unity can be in full display (i.e. In North County San Diego, a host of church gathers for what they call “One Church”. It’s a quarterly gathering where there is a sharing of resources and encouragement with one another. There are also pastoral cohorts that get together on a monthly basis. Some churches I know are partnering with para-church groups like InterVarsity, FCA).