Thursday, November 13, 2008

Culture Shift

Eddie Gibbs in his book Emerging Churches writes that the Western Church today must study culture. We cannot just 'run church' the way we always have and expect the same results as the late 19th Century, or assume the same missional outcomes as previous generations. Why? Gibbs says, because:

* Christendom and Modernity are in rapid decline.
* Cultural understandings have always been essential to good mission practice
* The West is in the middle of significant cultural changes
* The Church in the West is in decline
* The majority of current church practices are cultural accomodations to a society of a previous era
* Baby boomers are the last generation happy with modern churches (pp. 16-23).

Attempt to understand the surrounding culture. Don't bother with Rock bands if your communities into sport. Why even have the 30 minute sermon, if your community prefers to sit around coffee shops and talk through issues.

The gospel of Jesus hasn't changed. The methods we use to engage culture with that gospel must.


  1. Why bother engaging with questioners if you don't want to?

  2. Do you really want people asking questions Pete? From what I read from you and your likeminded fundamentalists, you just want to tell people what they have to believe in order to avoid eternal torture. If you really can handle tough questions and think you have some satisfactory answers, let me know and I'll start posing some that some of your beligerent buddies (hello Simon & James) are unwilling and/or incapable of answering.

  3. Hi Jack and David. Thanks for your comments.

    I'm not sure how the current blog of mine calls for such a response or am I just hearing an annoyance that has occurred on another person's blog?

    I think I'm too postmodern to want to fit into any catergorical classification you want to give me. I just want to try and be in the middle of God's will... I was speaking with Wayne Ennis the other day and we were talking about this imaginary line of theological thought that exists where followers of Jesus sway to and fro around the line as they discuss different theological views. I think that reflects my journey over the last two years.

    When speaking about mission, I think there are a lot of questions worth asking, and because the church is in decline I think we generally have not been able to answer the questions people are asking.

    God bless you guys.

  4. To give you some explanation, Jack. I attended a 614 church meeting in Melbourne where I met a homeless man. I spent some time after the meeting asking different SA people about accomodation. Peter, somewhat surprisingly, brushed off my query - not even pointing out the services offered by 614 for people in such dire circumstances. It was this "I don't give a f***" attitude that at first surprised me, but then on reflection, I realise that people like Peter see so many of these desparate people that they soon learn to detach from the normal response of compassion.

    On more general terms, I do find SA church services somewhat unfriendly. Sure there's a veneer of fellowship, but it evaporates as soon as the service ends.

    I got the distinct impression that maybe I should not go back.

  5. I should also add another personal observation. I have noticed a strong inverse correlation between fundamentalism and compassion. The more fundamentalist Salvos are the most stridently judgemental and unloving people you can meet or talk to. On the other hand, those of more liberal theological leanings seem to display more innate compassion and concern for others.

    Why is that?

  6. Hey David, sorry to hear your frustration about our conversation a few weeks back.

    As you might understand I've only been going to 614 for a couple of months and so when you say, "Peter, somewhat surprisingly, brushed off my query - not even pointing out the services offered by 614 for people in such dire circumstances." That's simply because I don't know what the services are! I wish I did. I wish I was able to have the ability to connect people exactly where they need to be connected. But I wasn't able to, and for that I'm sorry.

    Jack, I'd be interested in your view of the question you asked me earlier? You know the answers aren't always so black and white.

  7. No I don't think the answers are black or white, but the fundamentalists usually believe they are. As to what I believe about the questions I posed, at this point it is hard for me to believe that any part of Christianity is true. The questions I have asked you relate to one of the main areas I have difficulty in believing. If 'Jesus or hell' is true, then God is pure evil. To allow people to be born, knowing that many will not choose to 'repent and believe' and then send them to a place of torture for eternity is evil. If this is true, God is further from love than we can ever imagine.

    I know that you can bring out all the usual comments about the holiness of God, how seriously God views sin, that we 'choose' to reject God and therefore we choose separation from Him. But these answers still don't cut it with me. God's 'justice' as traditionally accepted is infinitely unjust. To try and understand how abhorant the concept of eternal punishment is, consider this as an example. You are going to have a child soon - fast forward five years from now. They go into your office and steal a pencil. They know it's wrong, they admit they stole the pencil but they don't say sorry for it. As punishment, you lock that child in a dark basement for their rest of their life, administering merciless beatings on them every one of those days. Yet you will have treated them far better than God will.

    If eternal hell is a reality, then it would be far better for most people to have never been born. Looking at it logically, we should be encouraging abortion if it means guaranteeing those babies go to heaven rather than risk them being born and possibly not choosing to 'repent and believe'. This is something I commented about on Simon Mapleback's blog, but he has chosen not to respond. Perhaps the concept is too difficult for him to comprehend.

    So what do you think?

  8. I think Jack I've asked the same questions over the years. I have also provided the 'pet' answers too about the holiness of God and our seperation of sin.

    I'm not particularly sure how to comment, but I guess for me, I choose to follow Jesus not because he gets me out of this 'eternal damnation' - (whatever that is - that's another discussion), but rather because I've seen the transformation and the healing he has brought to people's lives when the love, grace and power of God has been evident.

    There is also the common thought about the freedom and choice that God gives people, which I know you've heard, but that's something I ponder... If God made us all robots with out any ability to do wrong, then where would love be? (That maybe doesn't fit the discussion on eternal life though).

    Maybe some others have some thoughts on the topic?


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