Mustard Seed Article
Tim Chester writes:
“Much of the decline in the church in the West has been the falling off of nominal Christians. As a result, what remains may be more healthy. We have the opportunity to become communities focused on Jesus and his mission. The number of true Christians may not be falling so steeply—if at all. What is fast disappearing is the opportunity to reach notionally religious people through church activities.
To seize these new opportunities, we first need to recognize that the Christian gospel has moved from the center of our culture to the margins. …One hundred million people in the United States have no contact with church. 1 Among this group are an estimated thirteen to fifteen million people who express a commitment to Christ and accept him as their Savior. This still leaves eighty-five million Americans who are unchurched and unbelieving.” 2 (Bold Mine)
Tim is pointing out in his excellent book that we should be re-thinking our evangelism strategies given what he calls our “post-Christendom” culture. I agree. While the Christian message has not changed, we cannot afford to think that the unchurched can be enticed to come to us to hear the message. Certainly, we have observed with our own eyes that more and more of our neighbors think that the church is irrelevant. The, “I’m all set” mentality when we knock on their doors.
As we pray and discuss how to best spread the good news of Christ’s kingdom, we need to spend more time thinking about how to get this mission into our everyday lives, the places we live and interact with people. I am not thinking right now about street evangelism (although for those with gifting in this area I would welcome that). I am thinking about the kind of thing that Rosaria Butterfield articulates eloquently:
“My prayer is that this book will help you let God use your home, apartment, dorm room, front yard, community gymnasium, or garden for the purpose of making strangers into neighbors and neighbors into family. Because that is the point—building the church and living like a family, the family of God.” 3
My brief comments here are just to get the discussion started. There is much we need to think and pray about together. I will conclude with some questions for each of us to prayerfully consider:
Even as I write these questions, I realize I have not yet taken the time today to plead with our Lord for these things. Lord, help us care most about the things you treasure. Work in us a zeal for your message that will spread around us like a sweet-smelling aroma of life!
1. The Barna Group, “Un-churched Population Nears 100 Million in the U.S.,” barna.org, 19 March 2007, http://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/12-faithspirituality/107-un-churched-population-nears-100-million-in-the-us.
2. Chester, Tim. Everyday Church: Gospel Communities on Mission (Re:Lit) (p. 13). Crossway. Kindle Edition.
3. Butterfield, Rosaria Champagne. The Gospel Comes with a House Key . Crossway. Kindle Edition.