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Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by SaggyWoman, Sep 7, 2007.
1. Not that it should become a staple. We already have that in the sharing of the gospel through the keryma. But 1 Pet. 3:1-3 seems to point to the impact that a godly lifestyle can have.
2. "Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct." (emphasis mine).
3. Lifestyle then becomes a primer.
I think whatever gets the message of the Gospel to connect to the lost is what is best at the time. Sometimes it is personal example, sometimes direct preaching, and really should be both.
In 1 Cor 9:19-23, Paul says to the Jew he became a Jew, to the weak, he became weak, to those without the law, he became as those without the law to win others to Christ.
Very interesting thread, and hope and pray it does not become a Calvin free will thread.
If people don't see it in our lifestyle, they aren't going to be interested in anything we have to say.
Lifestyle is vital either before or after the verbal witness, but it is never a substitute for it. Because, humanly speaking, there are good people who don't know Christ as Savior, lifestyle is just an evidence and our verbal testimony is what gives people the why.
Mt 5:16--Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Tit 2:10--Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.
I have read that after spending a long period of time living in a tent in Africa with David Livingstone after finding him ("Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"), Stanley was so impressed by the godly life of the missionary-explorer that he trusted Christ as Savior.
I am sorry for the length of this discourse, but this is where I stand...
THE MISSIONAL CHURCH -June 2001
by Tim Keller
The Need for a 'Missional' Church
In the West for nearly 1,000 years, the relationship of (Anglo-European) Christian churches to the broader culture was a relationship known as "Christendom." The institutions of society "Christianized" people, and stigmatized non-Christian belief and behavior. Though people were "Christianized" by the culture, they were not regenerated or converted with the Gospel. The church's job was then to challenge persons into a vital, living relation with Christ.
There were great advantages and yet great disadvantages to 'Christendom.' The advantage was that there was a common language for public moral discourse with which society could discuss what was 'the good.' The disadvantage was that Christian morality without gospel-changed hearts often led to cruelty and hypocrisy. Think of how the small town in "Christendom" treated the unwed mother or the gay person. Also, under "Christendom" the church often was silent against abuses of power of the ruling classes over the weak. For these reasons and others, the church in Europe and North America has been losing its privileged place as the arbiter of public morality since at least the mid 19th century. The decline of Christendom has accelerated greatly since the end of WWII.
The British missionary Lesslie Newbigin went to India around 1950. There he was involved with a church living 'in mission' in a very non-Christian culture. When he returned to England some 30 years later, he discovered that now the Western church too existed in a non-Christian society, but it had not adapted to its new situation. Though public institutions and popular culture of Europe and North America no longer 'Christianized' people, the church still ran its ministries assuming that a stream of 'Christianized', traditional/moral people would simply show up in services. Some churches certainly did 'evangelism' as one ministry among many. But the church in the West had not become completely 'missional'-adapting and reformulating absolutely everything it did in worship, discipleship, community, and service--so as to be engaged with the non-Christian society around it. It had not developed a 'missiology of western culture' the way it had done so for other non-believing cultures.
One of the reasons much of the American evangelical church has not experienced the same precipitous decline as the Protestant churches of Europe and Canada is because in the U.S. there is still a 'heartland' with the remnants of the old 'Christendom' society. There the informal public culture (though not the formal public institutions) still stigmatizes non-Christian beliefs and behavior. "There is a fundamental schism in American cultural, political, and economic life. There's the quicker-growing, economically vibrant...morally relativist, urban-oriented, culturally adventuresome, sexually polymorphous, and ethnically diverse nation...and there's the small town, nuclear-family, religiously-oriented, white-centric other America, [with]...its diminishing cultural and economic force....[T]wo nations..." Michael Wolff, New York, Feb 26 2001, p. 19. In conservative regions, it is still possible to see people profess faith and the church grow without becoming 'missional.' Most traditional evangelical churches still can only win people to Christ who are temperamentally traditional and conservative. But, as Wolff notes, this is a 'shrinking market.' And eventually evangelical churches ensconced in the declining, remaining enclaves of "Christendom" will have to learn how to become 'missional'. If it does not do that it will decline or die.
We don't simply need evangelistic churches, but rather 'missional' churches.
The Elements of a Missional Church
1. Discourse in the vernacular.
In 'Christendom' there is little difference between the language inside and outside of the church. Documents of the early U.S. Congress, for example, are riddled with allusions to and references from the Bible. Biblical technical terms are well-known inside and outside. In a missional church, however, terms must be explained.
The missional church avoids 'tribal' language, stylized prayer language, unnecessary evangelical pious 'jargon', and archaic language that seeks to set a 'spritual tone.'
The missional church avoids 'we-them' language, disdainful jokes that mock people of different politics and beliefs, and dismissive, disrespectful comments about those who differ with us
The missional church avoids sentimental, pompous, 'inspirational' talk . Instead we engage the culture with gentle, self-deprecating but joyful irony the gospel creates. Humility + joy = gospel irony and realism.
The missional church avoids ever talking as if non-believing people are not present. If you speak and discourse as if your whole neighborhood is present (not just scattered Christians), eventually more and more of your neighborhood will find their way in or be invited.
Unless all of the above is the outflow of a truly humble-bold gospel-changed heart, it is all just 'marketing' and 'spin.'
2. Enter and re-tell the culture's stories with the gospel
In "Christendom" it is possible to simply exhort Christianized people to "do what they know they should." There is little or no real engagement, listening, or persuasion. It is more a matter of exhortation (and often, heavy reliance on guilt.) In a missional church preaching and communication should always assume the presence of skeptical people, and should engage their stories, not simply talk about "old times."
To "enter" means to show sympathy toward and deep acquaintance with the literature, music, theater, etc. of the existing culture's hopes, dreams, 'heroic' narratives, fears.
The older culture's story was--to be a good person, a good father/mother, son/daughter, to live a decent, merciful, good life.
Now the culture's story is-- a) to be free and self-created and authentic (theme of freedom from oppression), and b) to make the world safe for everyone else to be the same (theme of inclusion of the 'other'; justice).
To "re-tell" means to show how only in Christ can we have freedom without slavery and embracing of the 'other' without injustice.
3. Theologically train lay people for public life and vocation
In 'Christendom' you can afford to train people just in prayer, Bible study, evangelism-- private world skills--because they are not facing radically non-Christian values in their public life--where they work, in their neighborhood, etc.
In a 'missional' church, the laity needs theological education to 'think Christianly' about everything and work with Christian distinctiveness. They need to know: a) what cultural practices are common grace and to be embraced, b) what practices are antithetical to the gospel and must be rejected, c) what practices can be adapted/revised.
In a 'missional' situation, lay people renewing and transforming the culture through distinctively Christian vocations must be lifted up as real 'kingdom work' and ministry along with the traditional ministry of the Word.
Finally, Christians will have to use the gospel to demonstrate true, Biblical love and 'tolerance' in "the public square" toward those with whom we deeply differ. This tolerance should equal or exceed that which opposing views show toward Christians. The charge of intolerance is perhaps the main 'defeater' of the gospel in the non-Christian west.
4. Create Christian community which is counter-cultural and counter-intuitive.
In Christendom, 'fellowship' is basically just a set of nurturing relationships, support and accountability. That is necessary, of course.
In a missional church, however, Christian community must go beyond that to embody a 'counter-culture,' showing the world how radically different a Christian society is with regard to sex, money, and power.
In sex. We avoid both the secular society's idolization of sex and traditional society's fear of sex. We also exhibit love rather than hostility or fear toward those whose sexual lifepatterns are different.
In money. We promote a radically generous commitment of time, money, relationships, and living space to social justice and the needs of the poor, the immigrant, the economically and physically weak.
In power. We are committed to power-sharing and relationship-building between races and classes that are alienated outside of the Body of Christ.
In general, a church must be more deeply and practically committed to deeds of compassion and social justice than traditional liberal churches and more deeply and practically committed to evangelism and conversion than traditional fundamentalist churches. This kind of church is profoundly 'counter-intuitive' to American observers. It breaks their ability to categorize (and dismiss) it as liberal or conservative. Only this kind of church has any chance in the non-Christian west.
5. Practice Christian unity as much as possible on the local level.
In Christendom, when 'everyone was a Christian' it was necessary (perhaps) for a church to define itself over against other churches. That is, to get an identity you had to say, "we are not like that church over there, or those Christians over here."
Today, however, it is much more illuminating and helpful for a church to define itself over against 'the world'--the values of the non-Christian culture. It is very important that we not spend our time bashing and criticizing other kinds of churches. That simply plays in to the common 'defeater' that Christians are all intolerant.
While we have to align ourselves in denominations that share many of our distinctives, at the local level we should cooperate and reach out to and support the other congregations and churches in our local area. This will raise many thorny issues, of course, but our bias should be in the direction of cooperation.
Let me show you how this goes beyond any 'program.' These are elements that have to be present in every area of the church. So, for example, what makes a small group 'missional'? A 'missional' small group is not necessarily one which is doing some kind of specific 'evangelism' program (though that is to be recommended) Rather, 1) if its members love and talk positively about the city/neighborhood, 2) if they speak in language that is not filled with pious tribal or technical terms and phrases, nor disdainful and embattled language, 3) if in their Bible study they apply the gospel to the core concerns and stories of the people of the culture, 4) if they are obviously interested in and engaged with the literature and art and thought of the surrounding culture and can discuss it both appreciatively and yet critically, 5) if they exhibit deep concern for the poor and generosity with their money and purity and respect with regard to opposite sex, and show humility toward people of other races and cultures, 6) they do not bash other Christians and churches--then seekers and non-believing people from the city A) will be invited and B) will come and will stay as they explore spiritual issues. If these marks are not there it will only be able to include believers or traditional, "Christianized" people
I would have to take issue with this statement of tolerance. You consider a group of Atheist whose purpose in life seems to be to bash the Christian faith; then you put a few skeptical observers that are on the line in the mix, and tell me you should stand by and tolerate their antics and lies without telling the truth! The charge of intolerance is nothing more than a ploy by these people to attempt to get the faithful in Christ into the “you think your God is the only god’ argument which will proceed from within that frame into a no-win strategic situation of “if you don’t deny Jesus is the only way you are intolerant of other’s religions.” I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ” and “Whosoever will confess Jesus’ name” as the only way REGARDLESS of being called intolerant; it is a “defeater” of the gospel to NOT to speak the truth!
If you buy into this view of tolerance please explain to me how one can use the gospel to demonstrate true, Biblical love, while not speaking the truth that there is only one Way and demonstrating Biblically why this is true???
I agree with Benjamin. If you live a pure Christian life in front of the world, there is no way in the world you will escape being called "intolerant." If you live godly in Christ Jesus, you will suffer persecution--that is Bible. You don't have to say anything, you don't have to criticize anyone, you don't have to demonstrate against abortion, homosexuality or anything else--you will still be persecuted. Some will be drawn to Jesus through your godly life, but most will simply hate you.
When I was in high school, I really didn't have that great a witness, but I was known for being a Christian and a PK. One day I was shoveling the snow in front of the parsonage and church when a fellow high school student I didn't even know happened by. He said, "----- Christian," spit in my face and walked on.
Just a couple of weeks ago we had a message on our church phone about some tracts Habazaki San and I had been getting out, those yellow ones from World Missionary Press with nothing but Scripture in them. The phone call said, "You put this yellow pamphlet in my mailbox (legal in Japan), and it was very unpleasant. Stop passing those things out!!"
Forgive me, SaggyWoman, but this is not what I thought I was answering. To me, "lifestyle evangelism" refers to a controversy in the 1980's over a couple of books that came out, Evangelism as a Lifestyle (1980) by Jim Petersen, and Life-Style Evangelism (1981) by Joseph Aldrich. So you threw me a curve here.
Now I'm out of my depth. We have no controversy about "missional churches" in Asia that I know of, so I am ignorant. Does "missional" mean what lifestyle evangelism meant in the 1980's? It doesn't seem to.
At its' most basic meaning, it means for a pastor and church to look at the area in which they minister as a missionary might look at his field. He studies the people, the language and the culture of the people God has called him evangelize. It also goes beyond what we used to call "mission minded" which was often just talking about how many missionaries we supported.
Let's sum up Keller's theses in just a few words...
Don't "come out and be ye separate," but stay in and be friendly. If your church is more like the world, then the world will understand you and accept Christ. The reason that the church is less effective these days isn't because the hearts of people have waxed gross or their ears dull of hearing, it's because you aren't "speaking their language."
Blah, blah, blah...
Where was Keller when Jeremiah needed him?
Isn't a church made up of locals? They're already part of the "language and the culture." What Keller meant was to become part of the counter culture or the pop culture.
Well, the word "cross-cultural" did come to mind while I was reading SaggyWoman's article. I also noticed the word "missiology" (as opposed to the old school word "missions") in the article, which is somewhat of a negative to me. Why?
Modern missiology often neglects the work of the Holy Spirit and the power of the Gospel itself in favor of a sociological, intellectual approach to missions. And along that line, the Holy Spirit was not mentioned at all in SaggyWoman's article. Evangelism and missions without the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit is like a car without an engine--next to useless!
Why is Korea today 46% Christian while next door Japan is only one per cent? Because of wonderful, prayer-powered Holy Spirit led revivals in Korea in the early 20th century! Why is America declining in Christian power and presence? It is not for the lack of methodology, it is for the lack of Spirit-filled, Spirit-led revival! American churches have sold their birthright for a bowl of intellectual porridge.
Can he get an - AMEN!
Fine, then I'll give him one:
Neither of those verses endorse lifestyle evangelism. The one just says that we should so our good deeds to the world that they may glorify God. It doesn't mention or even hint at them seeing that light and then somehow being saved.
Sorry about that. I don't necessarily mean to align the two thoughts threads, because in one sense, They are drastically different. But in the Missional article, there were some thoughts and concepts on lifestyle that I think goes along with lifestyle evangelism.
And I will give you the movement of the Holy Spirit any day.
That is something not present in many American churches today.