Post-Congregational Christianity

Read anything written by Reggie McNeal? He is the author of The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church. I have not read the book yet but after hearing and reading several prominent missional leaders quote this guy, I went to Amazon and found the following quotation from chapter one:

A growing number of people are leaving the institutional church for a new reason. They are not leaving because they have lost faith. They are leaving the church to preserve their faith. They contend that the church no longer contributes to their spiritual development. In fact, they say, quite the opposite is true. The number of “post-congregational” Christians is growing. David Barrett, author of World Christian Encyclopedia, estimates that there are about 112 million “churchless Christians” worldwide, about 5 percent of all adherents, but he projects that number will double in the next twenty years!

I have the feeling that Europe is years ahead of North America in this trend of “churchless” or “post-congregational” Christianity.

By the way, you can listen to an audio narration of the first chapter of McNeal’s book here at New Reality Number One: The Collapse of the Church Culture.

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Interviews on "Simple Church"

This video represents a growing movement throughout the world: the "simple" or "organic" church. Many traditional church leaders—especially in the Western world—feel very threatened by this movement and try to paint these believers with a broad brush, describing them as the lunatic fringe of the church of Jesus Christ. What they don't realize, however, is that Continue reading

Family matters

Bubba Lollar & familyMy cousin & his family spent the past four days with us, after a ten-day mission trip in Birmingham, England. Harold "Bubba" Lollar works in the Tupelo office of Roger Wicker, United States Congressman for the First Congressional District of Mississippi. We got some interesting looks when I introduced "my cousin Bubba and his wife, Rockie," to our Welsh friends. Their six-year-old adopted daughter, Myleea, really enjoyed herself wherever we went; and her teen-aged sister, Kate, spent some time with our youngest daughter, Jennifer. Bubba and I had not seen one another for thirty-five years, but we began to get reacquainted when I contacted him four or five years ago regarding our Lollar genealogy. Other than our two daughters who still live in the states, this is the very first time we have had family members visit us in Wales. It was a great experience, especially when we discovered their love for Jesus Christ and His church. Thanks for coming to see us!

Paradigms: too full of shift?

Paradigm ShiftA brother by the name of Christian Smith—never heard of him until I stumbled upon a couple of his articles—has written an interesting article entitled, Tub Drains, Planets, and Mountain Bikes. Here's an excerpt to whet your appetite (or spoil your lunch):

Medieval astronomers worked with a paradigm of the universe that assumed that the sun and the planets revolved around the earth. Even the Bible, they claimed, said so—a fact not incidental to our concerns. This paradigm informed the assumptions they made, the questions they asked, and the data they believed was relevant.

The earth-centered paradigm worked adequately. But over time, pesky anomalies arose, and making the paradigm account for them required devising an ever increasingly complex system. Eventually, an iconoclast named Copernicus proposed a new, simpler paradigm of the universe, arguing that the planets, including the earth, actually revolved around the sun. That was a radical shift of thinking, an entirely different frame of reference that drastically reordered reality itself. Continue reading

Our responsibility to "one another"

Angelic WatcherOne week ago a thirty-three-year-old single man, Karl Hayes, from our church was found dead in his apartment. None of us had noticed he was missing from our midst, even though he was absent from our worship gathering the previous Sunday and his small group meeting the week after. His parents had just left on a two-week hoiiday abroad and his brother was in Uganda with one of our mission teams.

Since he was "learning disabled" his social worker became concerned that he had not shown up for their regular appointment, since it was uncharacteristic for him to be a no-show or even late for their routine meetings together. So she started ringing people in the church to see if anyone had seen Karl. In frustration, she finally called the police. When they broke into his apartment, they found his body. It was later estimated that he had been dead for at least a week. Continue reading

Paul's e-mail to the saints in…

iPhone © Wham BrandsThe Apostle Paul's writing ministry has been far more influential than he ever dreamed, especially in those times when he wrote or dictated his epistles to the believers scattered far and wide. A messenger would bring word to him about a particular town or city, sometimes when he was imprisoned for the Christian faith, and he would send an appropriate response to those saints—whether in Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi, Colossae, and Thessalonica. They were packed with theology and its practical outworkings in the life of those particular believers, wherever they lived.

Can you imagine what it must have been like for those early Christians? Take the followers of Jesus in Rome, for example, who became the first recipients of "the longest and most systematically reasoned of Paul's letters," ((The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Deluxe Reference Edition (Weaton, IL: Good News Publishers, 2001), p. 1131))

They must have been absolutely thrilled as the news traveled from one house church to the other, especially the one he mentioned by name: "Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus…. Greet also the church in their house" (Romans 16:3,5). He actually sent personal greetings to many believers in the sixteenth chapter, expressing his love and commendation for their ministry to himself and the wider Christian family. Continue reading

Running on empty

EmptyThe following conversation takes place between Jake Colsen, the associate pastor of a prominent evangelical church, and a curious new friend known only as John. Several years ago, Jake had traded his lucrative commercial real estate practice for a full-time staff position in a mega church that he and his family had been involved in planting some fifteen years earlier. He has just met John for the first time, after leaving his church office in frustration for a long walk in the park.

The following is an excerpt from: So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore? The author has kindly made the entire book available to read online.

"I am really frustrated. It seems like everyone I’ve talked to lately is running on empty—even Christians I’ve known for decades. I met with one of our elders yesterday, who I’ve always thought to be a rock. Jim’s pretty disillusioned with it all these days. He told me he often wonders if God is even real or if this whole Christianity thing is just a crock." Continue reading

Ecumenism that is biblical and necessary

This morning a group of twenty-five or so evangelicals in the valleys of South Wales met in Merthyr Tydfil for the following purposes:

  • To enjoy a time of fellowship over a cup of tea or coffee
  • To rejoice in the supremacy of our Lord Jesus Christ and His grace toward us all
  • To share what God is doing in our lives personally and in the various ministries we are involved in (mostly pastors, but we also had a young Continue reading

Never go to work for God

ToolsSometimes I really wonder why I left a good secular vocation to work for the church. Things were a lot easier when I could compartmentalize life into three neat piles: career, family, and spirituality. For most of my life, I have pursued a dual-career approach to ministry. My business skills related to computers and accounting enabled me to provide for my family; and I think we've done pretty well as a family, considering that all of our kids have turned out to be productive members of society…so far.

I never had problems working for secular corporations, even though I lived my faith openly in the workplace. I have worked very closely with co-workers who were Wiccans, Jews, atheists, agnostics, liberals, Christian Science practitioners, and Roman Catholics. We worked as a team, got the job done, and shared successes and setbacks without killing each other; and I was never mistreated or made to feel unwelcome because I was an evangelical Christian in the workplace.

But then I was offered a "full-time ministry" position. And since I began "working for God," I find myself constantly in trouble with church people. They seem to misunderstand what I say, question my motives, doubt my loyalties, challenge my Continue reading