Reflection > Tues Week 1

[Note: for those of you who aren’t connected with Fuller, these Tuesday/Thursday reflections are a required part of MP520: Transforming Contemporary Cultures, taught by Ryan Bolger and TA’ed by Wess Daniels. I’ll be writing two reflections a week based on lectures and general class going-ons. Also – book reviews to look forward to. I’ll be posting 500 words on books off the reading list for the class. If you’ve been following my previous bloging, I think you’ll find this content up your ally … or at least an interesting read.]

Walking into this class, there was a bit of a stardom factor. Professor Ryan Bolger, wrote Emerging Churches with Eddie Gibbs. Now he’s my professor, and I’ll hang out with him (ok, and 30+ other students) twice a week.

Bare with me here on this first reflection. I lost these notes on my HD dive yesterday.

Bolger spent time introducing the history of how the study in this area even came about, and how the class came to Fuller. What stuck with me in this intro was the concept of “Christendom.”

Defined as the combination of church and state, Christendom was established in the western world since Constantine legalized Christianity as state religion. The notion developed over centuries that good citizens were Christian. Good Christians were expected, and did, go to church.

That means for centuries, churches naturally fell into a “they’ll come to us” mentality, because simply, the people came. Generation after generation followed their parents to church with no question or change.

But the recent baby boomers were the first to break this pattern and walk away from, what by that time, had become mainline denominations. This has caused a shift in the past few decades of the way people go to church, or simply, that they don’t. Even among Christians today, “Church shopping” is a popular term when looking for a church. This is a new practice. I never even thought twice about the term “shopping” attached to looking for a place to worship. Seems to fall in line with the rise in consumerism since post WW2…

Attendance rates at mainline congregations are generally still dropping, The average age of members at my home church, Concord First Presbyterian, is 69. Bolger mentioned mainline denominations in England/Scotland are forecasting their own death dates, Like my home church, members age, and there are no larger influxes of younger people to balance out the flock.

I’ve known this. I’ve been watching it happening – horrified, but wondering what could be done (and you bet a big reason I’m here at Fuller). Bolger broke it down in a way that made this “click” for me – as the age of Christendom comes to an end, and we can no longer expect people to walk through church doors on their own, a very fundamental change needs to happen. We, as the church, need to start going to them in their cultures and communities. Sometimes called, “being missional,” this very real and active outreach demonstrates Christ to the community, and brings people back to church.

They don’t come because they are supposed to be there, but because the church came to them. Through service, love, advocating, it’s a bottom-up approach that very much embodies Christ’s own ministry.

I walked out of class giddy – I felt I found handles on a bulky awkward bag I’d been carrying around. I know this is general and vague, but it was after-all the course introduction. I’m very excited to dig in!

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One Response to “Reflection > Tues Week 1”

  1. Blogs, news and more! Says:

    I am just amazed at how well you write! Keep-on going you are just so good… mary

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