Summary: We no longer live in a Christian culture. We are living in a post Christian world and people today are living like God doesn’t exist or at the very least, as if God doesn’t matter.So how can we be a disciple?
Being a Disciple in a Post Christian World
We might as well finally admit it. We no longer live in a Christian culture. We are living in a post Christian world and people today are living like God doesn’t exist or at the very least, as if God doesn’t matter. And the younger you are, the more likely you’re post Christian. The latest research by George Barna shows that 48% of the Mosaic Generation ages 18-28 is post Christian, 40% of the Buster Generation ages 29-47 is post Christian, 35% of the Boomer Generation ages 48-66 is post Christian and 28% of the Seniors ages 67+ are post Christian. The reality of God is fading in our culture today. We may hear words in conversations like “faith” or “spirituality” or “being true to yourself” and we may see evidence of spiritual hunger and search all around us but that search has been divorced from seeking God and Jesus Christ. Most often, spirituality today is focused inwardly on the self and seeking to become all you can be. Our post Christian world has three characteristics which authors David Fitch and Geoff Holdsclaw help us to understand. First is post positional. The church’s place in the world has changed. It is no longer the center of life. There was a time when the church was at the center of society and carried respect and influence in society. There was a time when pastors were highly respected and consulted on civic, cultural and educational matters. Today, the church, pastors and priests are viewed with apathy, distrust and even hostility. Second is post attractional. There used to be a time when people gravitated toward the church on Sundays. Build it and they will come. People could be attracted through advertising, programs, ministries and dynamic worship. No longer because the church in its present form isn’t attractive or meaningful to many people. Third is post universal. There was a time when everyone thought alike and believed alike because they had the common foundation of the Christian faith. No longer. In a time when many people weren’t raised in church, we cannot think we are speaking the same language when someone speaks of God, Jesus or sin. We can no longer expect that everyone knows who Jesus is and how important he truly is. Even more so, we cannot assume that people have a Biblical worldview. So there has been a fundamental shift not only in how people look at the church and the Christians faith but also the role of the Christian faith in society and people’s lives, impacting what it means to be a disciple but also the effort needed to make disciples. David Kinnaman writes, “New levels of courage and clarity will be required to connect beyond the “Christianized” majority,” which is 40% of the population.
Most of the efforts of Christian ministries fail to reach much beyond the core of “Christianized” America. Christian leaders have to realize that many efforts fall short because they imagine the post-Christian population is hanging on its every word. But today, people don’t care about what we know or what we believe, but instead want to see how we live. David Fitch and Geoff Holdsclaw write, “People today expect much less out of our ideas as Christians and much more out of us as people; much less from the truth of our ideas and much more from the truth of our lives. Much less from what we claim to know and much more from the life we’ve experienced.”
In a post Christian world, being a disciple today isn’t so much about sharing the Good News as it is living an authentic life. Before they will ever hear what we have to say, they want to see how we live. Our lives can give people an encounter with the Gospel in ways words can’t. In us they can see and experience something real, humble and authentic in Jesus Christ which causes them to take notice. As we shared in the first message of this series, our God is a sending God because he seeks to find that which is lost. This is the message of Luke 15 in the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. And if we are going to reach those lost or far from God, we have to go to them where they are. For too long in the church has tried to get people to come to us which works in a Christian world but in today’s post Christian world, we need to go to them, Out there, where they live.
First, we do not go alone because God is already at work in the world before we are sent out. We don’t bring God into the world but rather join in what God is already doing in the world. We are sent into the depths of our neighborhoods and diverse communities to find those far from God in whose lives God is already working: among the meek, the poor, the hurting, the sick and those who are struggling. This is the nature of the God we worship.