As Christians in N. America, we face stark new challenges related to our inherited ways of being church. I’m talking about the cultural challenges to truth, poor perception of Christians in the public, pluralism, a loss of sanctification/discipleship practice in the face of consumerism, alternative sexualities, and our participation in bringing justice to the world (to name just a few). As we seek to respond to these challenges for Mission, it seems we are locked in between two options: conservative or progressive, stretched out on a continuum.
On the one hand, there are those who want to return to older Reformation articulations of the faith while re-applying these understandings to engaging Mission. On the other hand, there are those who seek relevance by updating their faith along with their practice to the cultural issues we face. Many people think the reasonable thing to do when faced with these polarities is to be moderate. “Let’s find some common ground. Let’s meet in the middle,” they say. Moderation, a middle way, a third way.
But the moderate approach ignores the fact that both these ways only appeal to the already convinced. Only people already committed to Christian life (in some way) will find a “return” or a more “relevant” Christianity appealing. There is no crossing boundaries to those who have no foundation to understand the past Reformed formulations or already possess a more culturally relevant (and more immediately accessible) way to pursue life, love and justice that does not need Christ.
The way forward is therefore not moderation between these two options. No, we must turn towards a more immoderate way.
As God came in Christ entering our world, inhabiting, being “with” us, to bring salvation into the world, so too must we follow Him, boldly, recklessly, crossing all boundaries into our world. As God was prodigal, excessive, even reckless, becoming present in time, place, and context, we too must join Him in becoming “prodigal” in our love for the world. We must be present in His presence for the world. Only a “prodigal” gospel can break free of our Christendom continuum.
Of course, how do we do this is the big question. There are growing numbers of people within the Anabaptist, Holiness, Charismatic, classic Reformed and centrist Baptist church movements who have never really fit nicely into the liberal/fundamentalist debates or the more recent conservative/progressive continuum. They are growing in number exploring this immoderate approach, breaking out of the Christendom bind, drawing from the resources of the radical Reformation and beyond. This group seeks an immoderate radical holy faithfulness for the future witness of the church in these times. Are you one of these people? Do you find yourself in a “holy discontent” with the present options?
If you see yourself and your tribe within this Immoderate Proposal, here are some steps continue this movement:
- Gather: Many are gathering (virtually and physically) around the immoderate Mission of God, and Missio Alliance is a central space for this. Please join their Newsletter or Facebook page.
- Spread: Share this post and others like it far and wide, telling people there is more than moderation for God people in the world.
- Read: Today is the release of our book outlining 10 signposts leading us into God’s mission called Prodigal Christianity (digital and hardback). It comes out of our experiences of seeking the mission of God beyond the Christendom continuum between conservative and progressive. Please read it, review it, and share it.
And many many blessings to all as we gather to seek a new faithfulness for Mission in our time.
(This post was co-authored by Dave Fitch and Geoff Holsclaw)