Sunday, March 28, 2010

Opportunity in a Dark Night of the Soul for the Western Church

Many Christians view the decline of Western Christendom with alarm, as if God had fallen from heaven.  Enormous effort is put forth to launch church growth programs to shore up membership, increase giving, and keep denominational ships afloat.  But the history of God's people is a history of life cycles, a history of clarity about call and identity, followed by complacence, followed by collusion with the powers, followed by catastrophic loss.  Contrary to being a disaster, the exilic experiences of loss and marginalization are what are needed to restore the church to its evangelistic place.  On the margins of society the church will once again find its God-given voice to speak to the dominant culture in subversive ways, resisting the powers and principalities, standing against the seduction of the status quo.  The church will once again become a prophetic, evangelistic, alternative community, offering to the world a model of life that is radically "other," life-giving, loving, healing, liberating.  This kind of community is not possible for the church of Christendom.  Christendom opposes prophetic community with its upside-down power and its exposure of golden calves.

from Elaine A. Heath, The Mystic Way of Evangelism:  A Contemplative Vision for Christian Outreach, pages 26-27

No comments: