And so, our mission is…

… to help willing people move from the fringe to the core (discipleship) and from the world to the core (evangelism).

My observation is that the majority of local churches today, particularly evangelical churches in the west, are focused mostly on the evangelistic portion of this mission using mostly a strategy of “attractive” worship services.  It’s staggering to see how much money is being poured into these ‘attractive’ worship services; it’s even more staggering to observe that many churches are coming to the conclusion that to make the service ‘attractive’ they must minimize the role of God and the Bible in it.

This weekend, I received a flyer in the mail for a new local church in my area.  I don’t have it with me at the moment, but I saved it…maybe I’ll scan it and upload it if I think about it later.  But I noted that it did not have the word “God” anywhere on it.  It also contained a number of comparisons between it’s style and other (obviously, less ‘attractive’) styles of worship. The phrase, “we have a talk, not a sermon” comes to mind. 

Now, I understand the concepts and purposes of the “seeker” church and the “emerging” church, but what kind of a church believes they have to hide God to be effective?  Would God really call us to something that requires us to hide his Name to be successful?  Isn’t the power to save in the gospel itself?  Isn’t the biblical model for evangelsim Christians sharing their faith unashamedly with other Christians, in large group, small group, and one-on-one settings?  Looking at today’s churches, you would think that the power to save is in concerts, dramas, social events, community service, and pop psychology ‘talks’…that it’s more important to go to church, be in a small group, have a good marriage, help people find their parking spots and not be stressed out than it is to have a genuine, personal, saving relationship with the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ which demands that we give up many (not all) elements of comfort to do the right thing and not just the popular thing. 

My purpose in saying these things is to make a very specific point. 

That point is that unless something is done to reverse the trend, we will soon find the visible Church dominated by the fringe…an intermingled group of lukewarm believers and Godless non-believers united not by one faith in God but by one faith in the world’s system.  The core will be reduced in size, influence, and effectiveness.  We will all rejoice in our election of leaders who promise a hope that is of ourselves and not of God.

If the core is going to do anything to reverse the trend, it has to rise up now.  Time is running out …

Who is living on the ‘fringe’ of the Church?

I don’t want to belabor the ‘problem statement’ too much before getting into some thoughts on the solution, but I think it’s wise to go one level deeper before moving on.

Let’s briefly elaborate on ‘core’, ‘fringe’, and ‘world’ then conclude with “so what?”

Core

These are obviously genuine believers in Jesus Christ.  They know their Bibles, or are working hard at knowing their Bibles.  Internally, they struggle to think and act as Christ would, whether that is popular or not.  When they mess up, it really hurts yet move on in God’s forgiveness.  The core is seen by the fringe and the rest of the world as generally loving and ‘good’ but also a threat to principles they hold dear such as ‘tolerance’ and ‘relative truth’.  The core’s firm belief in one God and one Savior makes the world and the fringe very uncomfortable, and this causes constant friction with these groups yet also unites the core in one Faith.

World

These are obvious non-believers in Jesus Christ.  Whether they label themselves athiest, agnostic or a believer in some other faith or cult, all deny one of the beliefs that make Christianity, Christianty.  These include historic essentials such as the diety of Christ, the atonement of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, and the return of Christ.  In general, these people are not upset by being called ‘non-Christian’, for they are not trying to be Christian. 

Fringe

For those thinking I’m being kindof black and white, here is the gray area…the vague overlap of the ‘core’ and the ‘world’.  The ‘fringe’ includes those people who would call themselves a Christian but who think and act differently from either the world or the core.  People in the fringe may or may not be ‘regenerated’ (born again). Some are genuine believers and simply immature; others are not believers but really like being in community with other believers.  Regardless, they all look about the same; they have little knowledge of the Bible, little motivation of study it on their own, little motivation to be more like Christ, and little motivation to act as Christ would act in situations where that “Christlike action” comes with personal risk or sacrifice.  Their focus is largly on conforming to the norms of the “church” community; and, because the ‘church’ community is mostly fringe (more on this in a later post), these norms align more with the world’s guidance on how to become happy and comfortable and less with God’s guidance.

So, what does this mean?  It means that you, the reader, fall into one of these groups.  If you are in the world, you probably don’t care much about any of this.  If you are in the fringe, I am praying that God would call you to the core.  If you are in the core, I’m praying you might help me help those in the fringe whom God is calling to the core get there.

More to come…

Let’s begin…

…with a couple of assertions and see what happens.

There are three kinds of people in this world: “Core”, “Fringe”, and “World”.  The ‘core’ includes obvious, genuine, mature believers in Jesus Christ.  The ’world’ includes those who are obviously not believers but one day still could be.  The ‘fringe’ includes those who either are believers and yet look like the world or are not really believers yet look like believers.  Either way, those in the ‘fringe’ look and behave in a very similar way; and, it’s often really hard to tell the difference between a believer and a non-believer because of the way each have been ‘conformed’ by the culture around them.

For the most part, western evangelical local churches…especially ‘large’ churches…are doing a really good job of growing the ‘fringe’ but are not doing much to grow the ‘core’.  Therefore, the ‘fringe’ is growing at a faster pace than the ‘core’.

How are we so far?

Why would anyone start a blog?

Quite frankly, I don’t know. But then again, I did not know why anyone would want to join facebook until I did!

This blog is not intended to be simply my random ramblings. Rather, I want to stream some thoughts on the state of the Church and gather input in preparation for the launch of a discipleship ministry that God has placed in my heart.

I look forward to engaging discussion with whoever the Lord leads to this thread.

John