THE ABSENT YET SOON PRESENT CHURCH
In the present/past the church has been present in worship, politics, morality, religion . . . but absent in other conversations and contexts that have the ability to spread the good news of Jesus like never before, but that is changing . . .
The church has done missions – but hasn’t done global. We get missiology – but so little of globalization. Without realizing it, and then in ignorance celebrating it – we are viewed by the rest of the world as religious colonialist that promote, expand, celebrate a “western religion” ignorant to cultures, tribes, and nuance. YET, I have been so excited in what I have seen in this emerging young generation. They say the millennials are the “first globals” – they don’t remember a time they weren’t on the internet. Corporate funding and selective sending of a few to serve billions doesn’t mean collaboration – it can mean denial and refusal to accept a new world which limits the spread of the gospel. In the past, we in the West have celebrated tribal responses to the gospel – but that is insufficient for a global order.
The church has done “ministry” or even been “missional”, but has not brought about reconciliation and restoration. In my era and culture, the present/past church made salvation about the person – ignoring that God not only wanted to change people – but cities and infrastructures as well. You see this in all the justice issues, millennials are engaged in from human trafficking to micro-finance to doing social media campaigns against dictators – and they do this with all the evangelistic fervor that you could imagine.
The church has done theology by tribes, once you join the tribe you accept it verbatim as the leaders of the tribes dictate. That no longer exists. I was in a country with a young Assembly of God, a young Baptist, a young Methodist – and they all shared the same theology on the Holy Spirit. Tribes were not seen as determining belief as much as they were funding and networking. The soon and emerging church is asking questions like never before and exploring options – and while this may frighten some, and no doubt will lead to some excesses – it will also lead to deep thinking and new understanding of God that we haven’t had since Calvin & Luther.
In the present/past church it was always about the movement first and the person second. In the present/future church it is about the person being authentic in faith as credibility to doing ministry then from that. Credibility isn’t being seen in the ministry that is produced as much as it’s seen as the Gospel being present in the life of the person who sees it.
I’m excited when I’m at places like Exponential and other gatherings of planters because the conversation is incredibly hopeful for the future. The question we must ask is, do we want the church to continue to emerge and morph in unique ways in the 21st century – or do we want to bind it to a world that no longer exists?
Bob is the founder, senior leader, and chief spokesman for Glocal.net . His primary focus is to connect leaders and estabish relationships to explore transformation. Follow Bob on Twitter at @bobrobertsjr.