So, is the church in America heading toward cultural insignificance, has it become just another manifestation of our fixation with the temporal, or can it be a place of real, substantive transformation? Why is the church in our own country growing at a rather tepid pace (or in many denominations - shrinking), compared with dramatic, explosive, and sustained growth in many places in the "third world", most notably in Sub-Saharan Africa and South America? Why is it all we read about concerning church growth in America has to do with Rick Warren's latest book, or some Bible-belt Name It and Claim It congregation?
Could it be that we are not listening to the real meaning behind the stories we find in the book of Acts? Tod Bolsinger has started an interesting look at what Christian community really means. Read it, think about it, discuss it with your Christian friends. Perhaps, just maybe, if we could begin to grasp what real, meaningful, Christian community looks like, we could, one church at a time, transform our culture. I have to quote Tod's finishing thoughts today:
Further, Christian Community is not just a shared experience. It's
not people who sit together in pews or a movie theater or a football stadium
(even if they are the audience for a Christian event!). It's not polite
conversation at a potluck or a great weekend together at a Christian camp.
Christian Community is an ontologically irreducible organism. It is a
living reality that is imbued with the Spirit of God. And most
dramatically, it is the very life of the Triune God drawing people into a
covenantal relationship with God and each other. It is God's own being on
earth lived in and through believers for the single end-result of seeing each
person become like Jesus Christ. So that the Community together is a
witness for Christ.