Wednesday, April 07, 2010

being church in a time of cultural change

Flat out preparing for a class on changes in religion in Australia. Amid all the sociological theories and depression over declining numbers, the work by Kevin Ward back in 2002 stood out.

β€œOne of the great points of hope for the church is that sociologists suggest we are moving away from an era of rampant individualism into a new communitarian era .. one in which people bring a strong sense of individuality and will therefore be marked by a high degree of diversity and variety … We urgently need to finds forms of church life that resemble a community of touch teams much more than they resemble the local rugby club … If we are willing not only to give the freedom for this kind of evolution to occur, but also to provide resources to foster it, we may find not only a form of church life that actually engages with and incarnates the gospel into the culture in which we are placed, but also, surprisingly, one that more resembles in essence the church we find in the pages of the New Testament.”

Probably the last thing exhausted ministers might want to read this side of Easter. But it does provide a window on the appearances of Jesus after the resurrection, that sense of impermanence and willingness to meet Thomas in a different way than Mary, in a different way than Peter.

Posted by steve at 05:14 PM


  1. Ah, brings back great memories of an “unconference” (‘The Future is Tomorrow’) in Cambridge, 13-14 June 2003. Two days of rugby and church, romeo & juliet, eating at McDonalds, gospel and culture, and Christian Spirituality. Pleased you found the article.

    Comment by Paul Fromont — April 8, 2010 @ 4:26 am

  2. yes, I was thinking about that too. Kevin reading his lectures, me trying to be interactive.

    7 years ago. not long, yet so long,


    Comment by steve — April 8, 2010 @ 9:31 am

  3. I guess that is really the crux of it: “If we are willing not only to give the freedom for this kind of evolution to occur…”, where the ‘we’ refers to the church. I have seen enough examples of churches operating under an ‘Us-Vs-Them’ mentality, all too often stifling the kind of creativity and initiative that you speak of here, Steve. If there exists churches that are willing to engage and interact with the culture in which it finds itself placed, then I believe such a church stands to offer much, and influence many (especially if congregands latch on and create the frontline).
    Just me thinking out loud πŸ™‚

    Comment by Ryan — April 8, 2010 @ 3:58 pm

  4. thanks ryan. what i liked was the double emphasis, not just on saying “yep, have a go”, but “here’s some resource to encourage you to have a go.”

    there are some exciting examples of churches doing this. eg uniting church here in south australia and anglican church in UK. the latter raised 5 million dollars for this type of innovation.


    Comment by steve — April 8, 2010 @ 5:09 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.