Sunday, October 08, 2006

Further Thoughts on Contextualizing

This has been a great discussion, and I'm thankful to everyone who wrote thoughtful comments. Helpful stuff. I want to say a quick word about the idea that I'm working against any one type of church. I'm not addressing any one church or even a group of churches. I'm addressing all kinds of churches from all kinds of denominations and associations.

As I noted last week, the Southern Baptists do not have everything right, the Presbyterians do not, the Episcopalians do not, the Acts 29 churches do not, the 9 Marks churches do not. I'm not gunning against any specific man or any specific church. I would say that Reformed churches tend, as Al said, to be more insular and less outwardly focused. I'm not sure why this is, but I see it as a major flaw of a movement that I personally belong to. We are often very good at doctrinal instruction and preaching the truth, meaning that we accomplish the goal of the church to feed the sheep, but we often do a poor job of the accompanying goal: reaching the lost. Simply put, lost people don't really visit our churches much, on average. They are likely to be warmly received in the Reformed churches I know when they do stop by, but that's just the thing--people in this day and age aren't likely to stop by.

As I said at the end of last week, folks just don't feel the same guilt about not being religious or Christian or church-attenders. They do not have the instinct, as our grandparents did, to go to a church of some type on Sunday. They grew up under postmodern spiritualists or secularists who probably didn't really mention church on Sunday morning and who trained their charges to associate Sunday morning with soccer, not sacraments. Thus a generation of people was raised, people who have no deep interest in religion and little interest in organized spirituality. This reality means that our task has changed. We now need to go out. Reformed churches almost by definition expect people to come in. We must not emphasize solely the teaching that our churches will attract lost people by the way we love one another. This is one way the Bible presents lost people as becoming interested in Christ. The other way isn't very complicated, but it is under-practiced, and it is this: going out and making friends with lost people, getting to know them, being active in their lives, finding common ground with them through activities they enjoy. Is this not, rather than sitting in the pews and waiting for them to come, a better way to evangelize?

Soon we will find it is the only way. Soon we will be sitting alone.

2 Comments:

Blogger blake white said...

Owen, you drink coffee? Holla.

7:44 PM  
Blogger Dad said...

Owen, I share a basic agreement with what you are saying. However, I think there is another factor known as the Holy Spirit - who will draw God's elect to a saving knowledge of Christ, that must not be overlooked. I think the reformed idea of teaching (feeding) the sheep is Biblical. While it is true that some reformed people/churches do not reach out, there is also a sense of confidence that God , the Holy Spirit, will not fail, though we might. In other theologies there is a great burden placed upon human effort because to them God has done all that he can do already to save the lost, now it is up to us to convince them to be saved.

So saying, my confidence in the lost being saved rests upon a Savior who does save. Having said that, I am stiving to be bolder in letting the light of Gospel shine in my life. And I can rest in peace, if the saints are being fed in a church service.

Al

4:31 AM  

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