Making institutions more relevant provides no solution

The concept of a church “relevant” to contemporary culture reprises the liberal 1960s confrontation of the institutional church of traditional Christendom.[1] Both are dated responses owing more to the concerns of the Boomer generation’s youth than present-day alienation.[2] Making institutions more relevant provides no solution to the rapid erosion of church membership. Framing the modern problem, as Guder does, between these two dated positions prevents the emergence of more creative third alternatives that respect all cultures, including unchurched cultures. The stated goal of the missional church is to challenge a culture rather than make disciples of individuals within a culture as required by the Great Commission.[3] Challenging culture was the goal of the Pharisees and Zealots; the New Testament church is far more accepting of Roman oppression than their Jewish contemporaries.[4]

[1]Christian A. Schwarz, Natural Church Development: A Guide to Eight Essential Qualities of Healthy Churches (St. Charles, IL: ChurchSmart Resources, 1996), 46, 28-29, identifies the two factors most negatively correlated to church growth as liberal theology and traditionalism.

[2]Guder, Missional Church, 72-73.

[3]“The thrust of the gospel exposition in this book is to define a missionary people whose witness will prophetically challenge precisely those dominant patterns as the church accepts its vocation to be an alternative community.” Guder, Missional Church, 10.

[4]To some degree the Roman culture protected the early church from terrorism by its native Jewish culture. Cf. Acts 16:38, 21:33-40, 22:25, 23:17-23, 25:21. The New Testament church affirms its secular rulers in Matthew 22:17-21, Romans 13:1-7, 1 Peter 2:13.

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