My pal, Cam Roxburgh of Forge Canada, asked me to answer a few questions for their publication. He’s got a pulse on what questions church leaders are asking. So I thought my answers would be worth posting. What would be your answers?
1. What two cultural issues would you say face the church in the next 5-10 years in North America
On a broad basis, the church in N.A. continues to face the massive shift out of Christendom into a secularity that gives the church little room to operate. The church can only survive therefore by learning new languages and by inhabiting a local humble posture in the context. As far as more specific issues are concerned, it is incumbent that we engage the cultural issues of sexual confusion and pluralistic tolerance as people faithful to the gospel in both word and deed.
2. What internal issue do you think the church most needs to address?
Leadership. The predominant hierarchical ways of leadership of the past may have been efficient, but they centralize the church out of context instead of dispersing it into the world. The business approaches are just as unhelpful. We need to learn how to model team-based mutual leadership that relies on the authority of Christ as manifest in the gifts by the Holy Spirit. Then the Kingdom shall break loose and the gospel go forth where we live.
3. Many are talking about a deeper level of discipleship these days – desiring to help their people follow Christ more completely. What encouragement would you give to local Pastors and leaders who want to see their people grow in their relationship with Christ in the midst of a world that has so many competing voices?
My advice is don’t fight too hard to call the “well entrenched” into the discipleship of the Kingdom. Of course we offer discipleship to all but don’t be discouraged if few actually come and commit to this way of life – following Jesus as Lord into the world. Instead, start with those who are not entrenched in society’s commitments. They have not yet been “entrenched.” This is where Jesus says discipleship will be blessed (blessed are the poor … unless they come as children …etc. ). So look among the young, look among the poor. Start will small numbers, 6-12 at a time. Cultivate over time. The harvest shall be great!
4. Where have you seen signs of “the church” being faithful in your travels in the last few months? What were they doing that made them faithful? Do you have any websites or you tube clips you could point us to?
I see over and over again tiny communities forming in neighborhoods seeking God and the salvation He is doing in Christ for their neighborhoods. They are not on the radar of the media because they don’t sell books or keep statistics. But they are crossing boundaries, inhabiting neighborhoods, proclaiming the gospel. My prayer is we see more and more of this in the years to come, regardless of size or denomination of our churches,