Personal Jesus Feeds Personal Worship

A member of a mega-church here in Birmingham recently argued that there was no need for a missionary church presence here in the Unites States as the nation is Christian. It’s been won to Christ.

These numbers are off the top of my head but I think Barna’s research reveals that 92% of Americans believe in God but when pressed with the particularity of God in Jesus Christ and things like virgin birth, sinless lamb, raised from the dead, the numbers are more like 7, 8 or 9% over more than a decade. Hardly Christian! There is some credible research out there that less than half the clergy hold the faith once delivered to the Apostles. It’s hard to give away what you do not have.

An Ancient Future Church will take seriously these tension-filled truths. There is no need to ponder how we will reach unbelieving people until we admit they are out there. This is where individualism has a powerful grip on the church. There are an infinite number of caricatures of Jesus within American belief. The poor believe Jesus is a champion of the poor. Our oppressed in the US, hmmm, believe Jesus is a liberator. Too often the affluent believe Jesus is the perpetuator of an old covenant in which they will be blessed with land and livestock (read health and wealth). John Stott says, “The truth is that there are many Jesuses on offer in the world’s religious supermarket, and many of them are false Christs, distorted Christs, caricatures of the authentic Jesus.”

Individualism has belief within it but belief in what? An Ancient Future Church will take seriously its burden to challenge false belief even if it means being a smaller leaner church without all those who insist on a Jesus and a church (and a pastor) that affirms their caricature, even if it means not being able to pay the bills.

2 Responses to “Personal Jesus Feeds Personal Worship”

  • jim murphy+ Says:

    You are radical and right! America ceased to be a Christian nation decades ago. The tide has gone out. Missionaries from Third World nations should be welcomed w/ open arms by the Church in the U.S., allowing the tide to return. Indeed, the American Church should work w/ them, arm in arm, simply because Christians from the global south recognize that we have nearly lost the the very Gospel that we and others shared w/ them, over a century ago.

    American Christians need a serious dose of realism as to the ill-health of the “faith once delivered” in our country, if we’re to ever make any headway for the kingdom of God in our midst. Starting afresh w/ apostolic styled, small house gatherings of Jesus’ diciples (Ancient Future) is a step in the right direction. pax Christi, jim+

  • Jennifer Ethridge Says:

    I’m glad to see you have a forum for your teaching. I have missed it!

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