When an earthquake occurs, scientists will talk about the “shifting” of the earth’s plates…the geological strata layers within the earth. These “shifts” force the earth upward to adjust and often cause damage to existing structures and sometimes loss of life.
In the culture where we live, there have been dramatic shifts which forced the Body of Christ to adjust. Sometimes those shifts have been the forces in the religious world as was the case when Martin Luther was inspired to challenge the conventional wisdom of the Catholic Church with his 95 Theses. Sometimes the shift has been the result of multiple factors in political or economic systems, such as the rise of communism and the results of World War II forcing the church underground in the Eastern Bloc of nations.
When the “shift” comes, loose things or ill-prepared things go flying and often are destroyed. Recently, I’ve been thinking about such shifts in culture which are dramatically repositioning the church of Jesus Christ…
- The shift toward more openness in our culture to homosexuality as a lifestyle choice. Ed Stetzler says the trajectory of thought in American culture is now more open to homosexual and the church must consider how to present the message of Christ within the framework of truth and culture. What does this [mean *] to our presentation of the holiness of God and our commitment to walk holy before the Lord? (* note 1)
- The shift in the way “church” is viewed. There is a redefinition of culture in terms of the church. Recently, I met a man whose testimony convinced me he is passionate about Christ but very indifferent to the ‘church” as an institution. How we define “church” is changing our mission approach. Not our message but our approach. What does this mean for our approach to win our communities for Christ? What role does our houses of worship play? Do we need larger and bigger buildings?
- The shift from discipleship to experience. So few churches are having success with Sunday School and older models of discipleship. When I was a boy, people came to Sunday School and left before we had our worship experience. That has changed. People are now not attending our discipleship/Sunday schools and if they come, merely joining the worship experience. What does this mean for our need to train disciples for Christ?
- The shift in time. As life gets quicker and technology is more advanced, people are more reluctant to committing larger blocks of time for “church” or religious activity. Conrad Lowe tells us that people now will commit only one or two blocks of time per week for religious activity. What does this do the models of evangelism and revival?
* Note 1 – The word “mean” is assumed from the context, & was added by Ray