20 July 2010


This week is our annual Brethren Church General Conference, and our plenary sessions have featured author and speaker, Reggie McNeal (not the football player, some other guy). He is laying down some strong challenges to the church, especially the failures of Western evangelicalism and its inability to converse with modern culture.

One statement which resonated well with me is that too often the church is trying to harvest a culture which hasn't been seeded yet. By this he intends to say that the church is looking at culture and expecting them to come and join us instead of being the salt and light into the culture, as we were told to be. Further, the church culture has put it in our minds that unless we are at the moment of saying the sinner's prayer with an individual, then we have not been engaged in evangelism.

I have encountered this personally: A number of years ago I was applying to various church positions and answering different forms and doctrinal statements when I came across one particular church which included 3 of 10 questions around the topic of How Many People Have You Personally Led to Christ? (under what circumstances, what are their names, are they still believers, etc). Wow. More adventures in missing-the-point I suppose.

The reality is that the church is not adequately engaging the culture around us. We have become Pharisaic (which I have been demonstrating in my post-series on Recovering Pharisees) in our actions and have been more content to separate completely out of culture - forgetting that we were supposed to remain in the world. This must change before the work of the church becomes completely lost on ourselves (and our attendance, buildings and cash).

This will require a radical shift in the way the church operates. Emergent does not have the answer to this, nor does it move us in the right direction. The church does not need another movement built on the promise of relevance and spiritual success. The church needs to relocate itself in the work of God's kingdom, which will move faster and accomplish more than we will ever be able to keep up with.

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