I have just spent the last several days at an international Baptist history conference on the subject of Baptists and revival. It was great connecting with scholars from around the world. While I do not personally like employing these terms, for lack of a better term or explanation, there was a wide range of scholars holding anywhere from ultra-liberal to conservative evangelical views.
At one of our meal times the questions turned to the state of life of the church in our home regions. New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the UK were all represented at the table. One individual had not liked some of the statistics I had revealed and language I had used about Christianity in Canada, and rightly said that they probably did not capture all of the “fresh expressions” of church. She went on to spell off new creative initiatives, folks who wanted to embrace new cultural norms such as homosexuality, and then frustratingly aired her bewilderment at why “conservative” churches were growing while many of these “fresh expressions” were not. She did not entirely appreciate my answer, though I pray my genuine and gentle response gave her something to think about, however, another chap at the table was very interested in what I had to say. I was grateful that I was at least able to encourage his already existent views.
The first individual thought that the answer to rescuing the state of the church in the West was to reinvent it. Certainly I would agree we need to engage different and developing cultures with the Gospel in different ways. She was trying to reinvent the wheel but trying square wheels, triangular wheels, oval wheels, and even no wheels, in a desperate attempt to sort things out. She was greatly troubled as to why those churches who were continuing with round wheels seemed on the whole to be growing.
The faulty thinking in her reasoning was this. She felt that the “round wheel” was obviously antiquated and was reacting against this to find out what would work. I would contend that she didn’t know what the true round wheel was in the first placed and asked her, “tell me about this round wheel you are reacting against because I probably don’t believe in it either.” Both she and her church were reacting against the failure of nominal and liberal christianity falsely believing it had been the real thing. As a result their church was floundering.
As the Church we do not need to reinvent “church” but only rediscover it, or in other words get an alignment.
We already know what works and that is the Truth. A dependence upon God through prayer and His word, and a belief in orthodox Christianity is the only thing that produces fruit. As a friend of mine often says, “we need to get the Gospel right and we need to get the Gospel out!”
“And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.” (Acts 6:7 ESV).
The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,