On Sunday night at an event with some of our Two Cities Church team, I introduced an idea. The idea that our community in Fresno/Clovis is becoming more and more post-Christian, despite all of the great churches in the area. Despite a high density of faith-based non-profits that benefit the community, people are becoming more and more ok with the idea that we are ok without God. That we have somehow outgrown the need to lean on the “crutch” of God and we’re perfectly ok with the idea of meaninglessness and a completely random life that happens by chance. So we are increasingly more comfortable with the idea that we are born, we live, we die and that is all.
Let’s explore what post-Christian looks like. It looks like Europe. A lot of great history and landmarks. A lot of empty, beautifully built and highly maintained chapels and churches. I spent a summer abroad in the city of Heidelberg, Germany. One of the things I noticed was that you could walk into any church and it was beautiful. The acoustics were amazing. The art-history was awesome.
I stood on a plaque that sits in the middle of a cobble-stone-road in a small courtyard in Heidelberg. It was one of the places Martin Luther (not King Jr… but the accidental father of protestantism) stood to give an oral defense of his 95-Thesis against certain practices of the Catholic Church. Luther meant to reform the Church, but instead he was condemned and forced to create a new kind of church… a church that was accessible to everybody by translating the Bible using the common language of the local people instead of reading it in Latin, which only the highly-educated would understand. And that’s just one of the many things he thought should be done. He was no Saint, he said a great many things that are extremely offensive as well. The history of religion in Europe is rich.
However, juxtapose the rich history of Christianity in Europe with it’s current spiritual state and you’ll see a gap between the two. Largely due to the fact that most of the Christendom in Europe was aristocratic and politically driven. It was not so much about a growing relationship with Jesus as it was a forceful-respect-filled relationship with a priest, who in turn supposedly had the ear of God. In other words, the religion in Europe was a hinderance to society, something that the people felt they no longer needed. The church was marginalized and eventually they became historic landmarks and a great stream income from tourism.
Are you aware that according to Barna, Fresno/Clovis is ranked number 45 on the Top 96 Post-Christian Cities in America? Yeah, here’s their graphic:
Ok, so what?
By this graphic and the barna research, we can see that church in the Fresno/Clovis area is beginning to be marginalized as something our community doesn’t see they need. Those of us in the church have referred to our cities as “the Bible-belt of California” but that’s not going to be the case in a few years.
So, how do we avoid being marginalized by our community?
- “In order to reach people no one else is reaching, we must do things no one else is doing.” – Craig Groeschel, Pastor of LiveChurch.tv
- Create Churches that Unchurched People Love to Attend
- Stop Speaking as if We are the Majority
- Stop Assuming People Know what is in the Bible
- Be Relational, not Religious
- Make a Difference, not a Point
- Error on the side of Reaching People, not Keeping People
- Get outside the Christian Bubble
- Be a Blessing to Our Community
- …and the list goes on.
I posed the following questions in yesterday’s post:
Are we concerned for the direction of our communities?
Do we live our lives proactively to ensure we leave our communities in a great place for the next generation?
Do we care about the challenges our grandkids and great-grandkids will face?
Will you be like King Hezekiah (read yesterday’s post) saying, “There will be peace and security in my lifetime” or will you avoid being marginalized by an increasingly post-Christian, maybe a better phrase would be post-Religious, community by being part of the movement of Two Cities Church and other local churches unchurched people love to attend?