One of the challenges facing those of us seeking to engage in mission in the post-Christian west is the post-Christian church.
In recent generations evangelicals have thrown out much of inherited practice, viewing it either as “religion, not faith” or as “no longer culturally relevant expressions of faith.” The result has been Christians who have lost their mother tongue and culture, almost as much as their neighbours who are three generations removed from the church.
This dilemma is comparable to the children and grandchildren of post-War immigrants to the UK, who have wrestled with what it means to be Chinese-and-British, Pakistani-and-British, etc. How to hold both identities in creative tension, giving birth to something new but rooted?
That doesn’t come easily, and arguably many churches haven’t wanted to pay the cost of working out what it means to be Christian in a post-Christian culture. This is all the more sad when leaders within our minority communities tell the majority culture that it is largely because we have forgotten our traditions that give us identity and carry our values that we no longer know who we are. Rather than asking, “How can my tradition inform how I live in a foreign land, and offer something positive to those I live among?” we have flown planes into the corrupt towers of inherited church and sought to rebuild what it means to be a Christian from some kind of Ground Zero.
The charismatic movement has rediscovered precious truths about the Father’s love and the Spirit’s power, but has not been so willing to engage with the character-(trans)forming disciplines the Son embraced, of solitude and prayer, fasting and feeding on scripture.
We live in a surrounding culture that needs the church to rediscover the significance of Lent.