The end is near! Or… A revival is coming!

Two very different takes on just how Christianity is “doing” in different parts of the world show our tendency toward tribalism.

In the Middle East there are dire warnings of Christianity becoming extinct in the Middle East. 

Meanwhile, Manhattan seems to be on the verge of a new revival!

So, which is it?

As Anthony Bradley points out on the Manhattan side (and not really anyone has pointed out on the Middle East side), it is probably a little bit of both. But nothing drastic in either direction. For evangelicals, we get so caught up in what God is doing, especially since WE got there! Bradley points out, and rightfully so, that there were Catholics, Presbyterians, Lutherans, etc., who have been there. For someone to say they actually knew every born again believer in Manhattan in 1993 is beyond the phrase “quite a stretch.”

But to the other side… Is the Church in danger of becoming extinct in the Middle East? Well, if you are Orthodox, you probably think so!

This goes to the point of demonstrating our tribalism. God didn’t show up until WE showed up… or God is leaving because OUR BRAND of Christianity is leaving…

Neither extreme is true.

The faithful witness of Christ abides. And it’s not just in our tribe.

 

There is ALWAYS Something to Attack

Just when I think I find something new to explore, to look at and see if it something that begins to describe what I am sensing in my own spiritual life, along comes an attack on that exact position. Anthony Bradley takes a swing at the terms “missional” and “radical” and calls it the “new legalism.”

Just when I was liking Greg Boyd a few years ago, I began reading things from others about why I should hate Greg Boyd.

Before that it was John Maxwell.

Before that it was Chuck Swindoll.

There is always something to attack.

Bradley’s whole premise seems to be, “Hey! Why can’t we be normal?”

To which I says, “Why NOT?”

First of all, who in the world really knows what MISSIONAL really is? I mean, even missional people can’t define it! They start with, “Well, it’s not…”  Thirty minutes later, I’m asleep and their still getting to what it might be.

But as for Bradley’s definition he says: This term is used to describe a church community where people see themselves as missionaries in local communities.

Wow. How offensive. How undesirable.

Are there cautions? Of course there are cautions. There are always cautions. Greg Boyd, as much as I still like him, is ticking me off by his non-answers more and more. There is always something NOT to like.

By the way, I like John Piper, too. Now, I’m really messed up!

Radical Christianity. Bradley calls this narcissistic. Listening to David Platt, I hear about going to the unreached peoples of the world. Give up some comfortable things and go serve a world that has yet to hear the gospel. I am not a philosophy major, so I may be shooting in the dark on this one, but that just doesn’t sound very narcissistic. But, what do I know? I don’t have a PhD.

To be clear, I DO agree with Bradley on the need for caution. But only on the need for caution. Legalism? Maybe some signs. But I can find those signs anywhere. I think Lutherans are legalistic about calling people Pelagian. 😉

In some missional leaders and “radical” leaders I don’t find people using shame. I find them using challenges. Challenges from the Gospels. That’s just downright offensive, I know. I want to sleep in more myself!

Bradley asks why can’t we just love God and love our neighbors? I completely agree. But with some missional and “radical” writing I find some very helpful ways to put feet on those ideas. Not always, but there are some helps there.

If you are tired and weary, by all means take a break. Rest. Find rest in Christ. Find rest in my church! Don’t feel like you have to go “kill” yourself to please me, some other preacher, or some other church.

But at some point, find a way to love God and love your neighbor. Get beyond yourself again. Find some challenges. They don’t have to be the same challenges of a Shane Claiborne or David Platt. They need to be from the Spirit. But rise to that challenge.

So, I am thankful that Bradley has finally given me a better definition of “missional.” It’s a definition I can really latch on to, whether I wear dreadlocks and live in an urban commune or not!