We Don't Make Waves
We're Discovering How To Ride Them
There are a lot of interesting waves coming ashore over the last decade. A few that we have identified are quickly changing the coastline of American Christianity.
1. The Wave of Exodus:
People are leaving established churches in growing numbers. As of 2008, over 3,500 people leave the church every day of the year. 83.6% of Americas are not attending a conventional church on a given weekend. We are becoming a Post-Christian nation. (See source)
2. The Wave of Doubt:
The beliefs of average Americans are eroding. The percentage of people who claim “no affiliation” with religion is alarming. According to their 2012 survey, the Pew Research Center discovered that the number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public—and a third of adults under 30—are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.
3. The Wave of Cynicism:
In our society today Christians are mocked more frequently for their stances on ethical issues. Teaching the Bible is considered “hate speech” by many liberals. The critics of Christianity frequently toss believers into the frying pan, then turn up the heat and serve us to a sensationalized secular media. Add to this that fact that we are often characterized and associated with the fringe elements that exist within our own camp.
4. The Wave of Change:
Half a century ago most churches were made up of multiple generations and only one style of music. Now there are multiple styles of music, each targeting a specific generation. Over the last several years it has become increasingly difficult to build a healthy church that attracts multiple generations, let alone people from different backgrounds.
5. The Paradigm Shift Wave:
This is a good wave. Right now there are pastor/surfers who are preparing to catch this one. We believe that our culture is ripe for someone to crack the code on lostness in America. So what would that look like?
First, we need to dispel some common myths. Most people have the concept that a church is a building where people gather. For them, church doesn’t happen unless they sing the music they like and hear a good sermon. But this concept is quite foreign to the New Testament. The Bible doesn’t prescribe any “orders of service” or styles of music for a church. As far as Jesus was concerned, the church wasn't a place where people gathered or even a time when they met publically.
The banker could take away the keys to the buildings and the church would still exist. Everything could burn to the ground or be taken up in an F5 tornado, but it wouldn’t make a bit of difference—not in so far as to what constitutes a church—because it’s not made of bricks and mortar. It’s made up of people.
The average Christian has a fundamental misunderstanding of what Jesus founded upon the rock in Caesarea Philippi. Church doesn’t begin when the music starts, nor is it over when people exit the parking lot at 12 PM. Church isn’t something that you drive to, sit in, shop for, hop to, join or even get mad at and leave. All of these things have to do with time and place, not being.
You are the church. It is made up of you plus at least one other believer. Church happens when two or more gather in the name of Jesus Christ. He is the head. We are the body. Understanding this has tremendous implications for the future of Christianity in America. As the old systems fail, what will replace them is a far healthier, more relevant and Biblically accurate definition of the church.
This is most certainly needed. In January 2012 "The International Bulletin of Missionary Research" published their annual statistics of the “Status of Global Mission.” They identified that $762K per year is the “cost effectiveness” per baptism, globally. Not only is this shocking, but it cannot be sustained. Ultimately, the whole system will come crashing in on itself.
Supersized buildings and bloated budgets are yesterday’s methodology. This is why there is a growing house church movement in our country today. It’s a fresh approach with ancient roots. It goes back to the way things were done in the book of Acts. When you don't need to purchase expensive real estate, pay a huge mortgage or provide for the cleaning and upkeep of buildings, money can be put towards evangelism and missions.
However, the advantages are not all monetary. The strength of the house church movement is that it demolishes the barriers between race, gender, socioeconomic backgrounds and age. The difficulty in making this model work in our country has been twofold. First, many of these house churches have existed in isolation from one other. There were no networks that connected them to a larger sense of purpose or mission. Secondly, professional clergy had difficulty figuring out how to support themselves within this model. Both of these challenges are easily solved.
With social networks taking center stage in our culture, connecting people has never been easier. The tools that are available to communicate ideas, goals, strategy, purpose, and vision are better than they were for any of the writers of the New Testament. With all of these advantages at our fingertips, we don't have to become the victims of the waves that are changing the coastline of American Christianity. All we have to do is have courage, faith and the willingness to adapt.
The Movement, Church of San Antonio has been established as a network of house churches. We’re not making the waves. We’re riding them. So grab your Bible or someone else's and a surf on in. Come to "be" the church, not just "attend" it.
Call or send us an email. We'd love to hear from you.
Call or Text: (210) 897-9787
Email Pastor James