Berlin Cathedralfrom wikipedia

Berlin Cathedral
from wikipedia

In part 1, I introduced a five-part strategy for reaching “secular” Christians:

The Word

Life-on-life witness

Obedience-based discipleship

Relationship and community

The power of the Holy Spirit.

This post will focus on the last two elements of that strategy.

Relationship and Community.

Relationship has two aspects – relationship with God, and with others, or community. In the Matthew passage, Jesus shows that people can do mighty works in His name, yet never have a relationship with Him. They say, “Lord, Lord,” and He says “I never knew you.”  We all have a desperate, created need for personal relationship with God. It is this intimate knowledge of Christ that allows us to take our focus away from the amazing works done in His name, and onto the hearing His words and doing what He says.

Jesus also proclaims His presence with us when we are together. “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” [1] This communion of at least two or three is an irreplaceable part of our relationship with Christ. We sometimes take Mt. 18:20 to mean “at least two or three”, and Jesus may have had that in mind, but perhaps He meant exactly what He said – two or three – the basic building block of community.

In that small, basic community unit we have a real chance to see life-on-life witness and obedience-based discipleship with a true opportunity for application and accountability. As two or three people interact with one another, in real life situations, they can quickly see action and reaction, speak into one another’s lives, and experience true transparency.

When we read Christ’s words from Mt. 7:16 about fruit inspection, we see how much more workable this becomes in an intimate group setting. In addition, as we understand what a contemporary European, a “secular Christian,” thinks about church, we can see that the small, core unit may be the only way to woo him to Christ. He thinks that church is a big, old, empty building; or a political system that is hopelessly out of touch; or a gang of mutually enabling pedophiles; or – at best – a group of well-meaning, but naïve individuals. The idea of the Church being family, or a squad of fellow warriors, or a trio of bff’s (best friends forever) has never occurred to him.

Relationship with Christ and one another, in community, relies on the indwelling, transforming work of the Holy Spirit. A strategy for winning “lay liberals,” though, is also dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit, the final component of our strategy.

Power of the Holy Spirit

When we include the power of the Holy Spirit as a key element of our evangelism strategy, we give more than lip-service to Him, and He becomes more than just a spiritual magic wand to make sure we include God in the midst of our hard work to win the world for Him. We actually may need to re-learn the reliance on the Holy Spirit that our grandfathers possessed, but mothers and fathers lost through a poisonous mix of reason and science, charismatic frauds, and unbiblical reactions.

Today’s European continues to search for manifestations of power. Beliefs in myriad superstitions; visits to witches, miracle healers, and New Age practitioners and reliance on astrology and horoscopes cause some to claim that animism is far from dead in Europe. “Opinion polls in Europe show high levels of belief in quasi-religious ideas such as reincarnation, but also in folk superstition: horoscopes, clairvoyance, ghosts, and so on.”[2]

Of course, the Holy Spirit is far more than just another alternative ghost. He is far more than a cosmic Force that enables His Jedi to manipulate reality. Reliance on His leading in our lives, and on His power to change others’ lives, gives us boldness, though, to proclaim His existence and demonstrate His powers of healing and transformation.

In conclusion, although Europe is faced with a rising tide of secularism, it still hangs on to the vestiges of Christianity. But it’s not enough to be a “Golden Rule Christian.” We must enter in at the narrow gate, and we are called to be faithful teachers, who call others to squeeze through that tight passage onto the unpopular trail toward life.

In total reliance on the Holy Spirit, operating in transparent community, we live and proclaim an obedience-based discipleship that can be freely examined through our life-on-life witness. Instead of relegating the Bible to a book on the shelf, between Voltaire and Nietzsche, we boldly acknowledge it as our life authority. Hearing and doing Jesus’ words, we become wise builders, not only of our own lives, but of a new form of radical Christ-following that can be both attractive and challenging for nominal Christianity.

CHRISTIAN NOMINALISM IN EUROPE III: WHAT IS A SECULAR CHRISTIAN?


[1] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Mt 18:20). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] Voas, David and Abby Day. 2010. Recognizing secular Christians: Toward an unexcluded middle in the study of religion (ARDA Guiding Paper Series). State College, PA: The Association of Religion Data Archives at The Pennsylvania State University, from http://www.thearda.com/rrh/papers/guidingpapers.asp. (15)

Comments
  1. […] CHRISTIAN NOMINALISM IN EUROPE VII: Strategy and Tactics, pt. 2 […]

  2. […] CHRISTIAN NOMINALISM IN EUROPE VII: Strategy and Tactics, pt. 2 […]

  3. […] CHRISTIAN NOMINALISM IN EUROPE VII: Strategy and Tactics, pt. 2 […]

  4. […] CHRISTIAN NOMINALISM IN EUROPE VII: Strategy and Tactics, pt. 2 […]

  5. […] CHRISTIAN NOMINALISM IN EUROPE VII: Strategy and Tactics, pt. 2 […]

  6. […] CHRISTIAN NOMINALISM IN EUROPE VII: Strategy and Tactics, pt. 2 […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s