During the last ten years we have witnessed increasing fragmentation within evangelical Protestantism in North America. Amidst the various calls for renewal, Emergent Village, The Gospel Coalition, and other organizations such as Acts 29, Redeemer City to City, and Transform Network have risen to provide places for theological reflection and training for the challenges of being the Church in 21st-Century North America. Much good has come forth. However, at a time when evangelicalism is being reinvigorated and reshaped by theology and practice, a significant number of Church leaders, from across a range of theological traditions, have voiced a shared desire for a collaborative alternative.
Consumer society presents challenges to discipleship, particularly in the North American context. Among these obstacles is an ever-increasing post-Christian culture that begs for new forms of cultural engagement. Furthermore, the language of Christianity is no longer native to large parts of North America. For the same reason, the region has also ceased to be a dynamic missionary-sending agent, instead itself becoming a primary place for mission.
Taking into account these significant cultural changes, the upcoming generations need clarity on the issues of scriptural authority, the robustness of the gospel, the incarnational nature of the Church, the importance of community, and the place of spiritual formation as discipleship. From these perspectives, we need to engage the cultural issues facing the evangelical church – including multi-cultural ministry and heterogeneous congregations, women in ministry, sexual identity, pluralism and God’s concern for creation care and justice in the world. Many of the streams within evangelicalism have unique contributions to offer on all these questions and have many lines of coalescence in addition to the other present options. It is our belief that an initiative of this kind could offer theological and practical guidance in ways that our other brothers and sisters have yet to do. As this initiative comes together, we expect conferences, websites, and media to assist us in educational ventures.
We are seeking to launch an initiative that offers in-depth theological and practical direction for the many pastors and leaders attempting to navigate the challenges of ministry in a Post-Christianizing era. We are seeking to create a space where theological concepts can be discussed and even debated. Where conversation space is allowed for and encourages freedom of exploration, not fearing a phrase like “theological innovation.” The goal is “to stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Phil. 1:27). This is a gospel mission imperative.