-co-author of Future Faith Churches: Reconnecting With the Power of the Gospel for the 21st Century
The morning was a follow up lecture by Nelson on Bibby’s lecture last year (based on Restless Churches) Here’s a few memorable moments;
The phrase: “There was nothing wrong with 1955 but it’s not 1955 anymore.” Repeated upwards of 20 times in course of his presentation.
He said that in the past churches have been oriented in a “come to” paradigm. That is to say that churches expect that people are going to come to them/their building/their gathering. He said, we allowed ourselves to bore people because we believe in loyalty. Because we were/are not able to bring the church to them – we have decentred ourselves as a major catalyst in society.
Nelson sharply criticized the seeker sensitive church. He said the ’we won’t bug you’ mentality has robbed the church of much of its potentially counter cultural influence. He reflected on Bibby’s claim of a heightened ‘spiritual atunedness’ and said that even though this was the case most people do not trust the church with their spiritual search. I was curious about this point because in some ways I can see that but I’m wondering about how we can regain that trust. Nelson suggested that the models of church that are only interested in bringing people in miss out on the reality of church expressed in wherever people of faith exist. He criticized the practice of these seeker sensitive churches in sending “guerrillas out there” to recruit new people to attend the church.
I also appreciated his emphasis on the connection between the nature of the church and the present reign of The Kingdom. He said, “we are to be a taste of what it would be like if God reigned.” He said that in his role as church consultant he was often asked to suggest ways churches could grow. When he asked these churches why they wanted to grow – often the answer was that they did not want to die. Not good enough Nelson said. The Kingdom established is perhaps a better reason to grow he suggested.
He said only in North America do we have the luxury of a dichotomy between social gospel and salvation. Great point.
Yup a good way to enjoy eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, and a Danish.
Books I want to check out…
Stephen Lewis Massy Lectures: Race Against Time
Lesslie Newbiggin’s The Gospel in a Pluralist Society
Kevin Phillips’ American Theocracy