preacherman

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Do We See America As A Missional Point?

I don't want you to get me wrong "I LOVE AMERICA." I am thankful for the freedoms that we enjoy. But is America Really A Christian Nation?

I personally believe that America has become a missional point. Many people are unaware of the good news of Jesus Christ. America has changed over the decades. It is no longer a society of Ozzy and Harriet but a society of Ozzy and Sharon. It is no longer Father Knows Best but a society were Father is absent and mother, grandparents, daddy's or mommy's know's best. America has declined morally in many ways over the years: absentee fathers, broken homes, teenage pregrancy, increase in STD's, greed, power, abuses, crime, the mindset of tolerance and relativism and on and on. Has the Church ignored the these issues? Have we been living isolated from the world instead of it?
Sundays for most American's is a day to relax, sleeping in, trying to get rid of the hang-over from the night before, going golfing, spending time with family and watching football. Churches have to compete with that. As the church and Christians we have to undertand that society has changed. It isn't what it used to be. So the quesstions I have:

Have churches been more focused on self than missional? If so, how have you seen it? Do we see America as a missional point? Why or Why not? How do we compete with American's views of Sundays? How can we reach the lost and be more missional minded? What ways can you and your church make a differnce in your community? What is your church doing now to reach the lost and make disciples? What do you think is the best way to evangelize? Do we base growth of the church on "church hoppers" or new converts?
What do think?
Share your thoughts.

32 Comments:

Blogger Velcro said...

You know, the Bible says that it is so much easier for the poor to come into God's kingdom than the rich. And America is the richest nation in the world. Maybe that's a big problem. We are so self-absorbed & seem not to care about the world around us.

Unfortunately, Christianity in our country has been represented by the likes of Pat Robertson & Jerry Falwell. I wish Christianity could be represented more by Bono than the both of them. Good post.

3:46 PM  
Blogger Alan said...

We are not of this world, but rather are citizens of another kingdom. There is probably a higher percentage of Christians in America than some other places, but America is not even close to being a Christian nation. The more we come to realize that we are foreigners here, the better off we will be as Christians. I don't see the notion of "God and country" in the Bible. Our citizenship is in heaven.

4:50 PM  
Blogger ftwskies said...

Loving how you think, preacherman!

As my friends and I have studied the scriptures the past few years, we've remarked to each other just how few "go evangelize" passages there are relative to how many "live this way" passages there are in the epistles. The conclusion we've drawn: there are some who are specially gifted to go out and preach, and that gifting obligates them to fulfill that role in the body, but for most of us, evangelism will be the natural product of "living right" in the presence of the world around us. Even the verse about "being prepared to give a reason for our hope" pre-supposes that something is going to spur the unbeleiver to ask about it in the first place. That's why holy, "salty" living is so critical. Mike Cope addressed the difficult balance between holiness (which calls us out of the world) and ministry (which sends us into the world) in his book "Living in Two Worlds".

Danny Sims and I were discussing this recently -- about whether the body is supposed to be more focussed on serving outsiders or on serving each other. I know it may seem to make more sense to say "serving outsiders" and I agree that all of God's children need to be cared for, but the community of believers ought to be such an inviting place, and such an obvious blessing to it's members in the eyes of those looking in from outside, that they would long to be a part of it. In that sense -- and not taking away from serving the needy outside our walls -- I believe living out the teaching of the epistles in the presence of the community at large is the primary way that the gospel was meant to be spread. We are not all apostles, but we are all holy ambassadors. I think that's just as big a part, if not the lion's share, of what the Lord meant when He said "they'll know you by your love for one another." (Jn 13:35)

-- Jim <><

5:29 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

I believe that we live in a world that has thus all but banned God from our lives. We have all but told God we don’t need him anymore. Think about the way that we live for a minute. Think about the world as we know it today, what is it that happened over the years that we lost our Love for one another? The civilization as we know it today is no longer civil. We have taken the incorruptible and corrupted it.

Life is a funny thing sometimes. We can experience so much in a matter of minutes. We can watch another life come into this world and watch another exit. How can we justify the killing of millions of people and call it “our best interest?” We are one nation under God, yet we know as Christians God has no part of murderers. We prided ourselves on the fact that this nation was under God but we are now boasting and thinking that we are one nation OVER GOD.

8:15 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

Yes, Preacherman! Thank you for this great post!! Your observations here seem to be right on target.

My heart's desire and prayer is for all who do choose to follow Jesus will also choose to love one another and work together to spread the Good News of Jesus all over this vast missional point.

BTW, your encouraging words are much appreciated at the Spiritual Oasis.

Blessings to you and yours,
-bill

8:51 PM  
Blogger Royce Ogle said...

Bono? That is as disturbing as your profile picture prophet! lol

I agree, America is at best post Christian. But, what country on earth is more Christian than the USA? I don't know of one.

Preacherman, you asked what is your church doing? We are reaching people through our WFR Relief ministry for about 25 years all over the world. We provide radio time for preachers in over 70 countries for weekly gospel broadcasts in their own languages through World Radio. We are reaching addicts and other hurting people in our local community through our recovery ministry. Our young men are preaching all across the south every Lord's day where God opens the doors. Our AMEN (American Military Evangelizing Nations) ministry has key men at every military base in the world holding forth the word of life for military people and their families. We work 2 or 3 times a year in Mexico by sending medical teams to help the people and to preach Christ. In the past yeear our people have been to several countries around the globe teaching, preaching, helping orphans, and sharing Christ.

My wife and I have personally been on several mission trips to the gulf coast to encourage, help, and build up the saints in the areas hard hit by the hurricanes.

Our counseling ministry has set up a network of counselors to help victims of the storms. We made one trip with them to New Orleans to help Christians there.

So, by God's grace and with His provision we are doing what we can at Whites Ferry Road here in N E Louisiana.

Good post Preacherman. You always make me think. That is a good thing.

Grace and Peace,
Royce Ogle

11:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Royce,

According to Lee Camp's Mere Discipleship, Rwanda, at least in the 90's, was the most Christian Nation on earth. But they slaughtered themselves.

Some Christianity! He theorizes that they learned it from the West.

8:37 AM  
Blogger Josh Woods said...

Preacherman, I completely understand your concerns about America, but when I begin about all the evils that have crept into our society, I simply think of all the evils we've dealt with in the past. Think of slavery and racism, for example. These battles against immorality in American society have always existed – it just hasn't always been the same set of immoral actions we've fought against.

I recently read a letter from a church leader in a foreign country where Christianity is often met with persecution. This church leader asked that Christians in the U.S. quit praying for the persecution to end. In fact, he said he was praying that American Christians begin facing persecution. Why? Because, he said, that's when Christians' faith becomes strongest and the church begins to grow.

10:07 AM  
Blogger Darin L. Hamm said...

Preacherman,

don't we live in a country that revolted against their earthly rulers?

What did Paul teach on that? Jesus?

10:16 AM  
Blogger Jim Martin said...

In general, I do not think we (churches in general) see American as a missional point. I do think we had better begin to see that it really is a missional point.

Good post!

3:02 PM  
Blogger Ancient Wanderer said...

I didn't even know 'missional' was a word. Thanks.

Now, to your actual questions.

Yes, the U.S.A. is a mission point. I am in a "stateside mission" work [don't try to get no respect at a Missions Forum being a "stateside" missionary ;)].

Focused on SELF? Yes, and not in a good way.

Focused on self as a social and fraternal order.

Focused on self as a place to give the Youth an alternative.

Focused on self to fulfill our volunteer work. We want to use the church to take care of our social hobbies- Cub Scouts to AA to Soup Kitchens. Didn't say it was bad just most of these aren't real honest-to-goodness evangelism tools. I know of a "mission" Day Care that doesn't teach the Bible, doesn't have VBS or bother the children or their parents with the Gospel. BECAUSE they don't want to "turn them off to Jesus"????

Focused on self as being the Mother Church to the world.

Has the church ignored social issues? Obviously not that is all most blog posts are about. ((see comment on our volunteer work))

Best way to evangelize? Personal, one on one, door to door.

Yes, a lot of church growth in many urban & suburban areas in the B/B are due to SHEEP-STEALING. (in my humble loving opinion).

-AW-

5:54 PM  
Blogger Larry said...

While America is a mission field just like any other country, perhaps it requires a different approach to reach those who know God, but have rejected Him, than those in many foreign countries that don't even know Him.

Perhaps if more Christians in America actually lived Christian lives before the community, we would begin to reap lost souls, but if the lost can't see the difference in those who follow Jesus and those who don't; why change!

The unchurched (if that's a word) in America often don't want to be bothered with religious stuff; it distracts from their fun stuff.

5:43 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Great comments.
I appreciate everyone's thoughts on this subject. We all understand that America is a mission field. We know that American's view of religion and the Church has changed throughout the years. So what is the best way to reach the lost? Royce's church is doing some great things to reach the lost. Good ideas. What is the best way to outreach? Most sucessful? Is it One on one, personal testimonies, ministry programs, campaigns, seeker services, or other ways? What has been sucessful in your congregations?

Discuss among'st yourselves.

10:31 PM  
Anonymous David said...

Preach,
Good post.
I think the best way to reach American's for Christ is one on one. Sharing Jesus with friends. Inviting our friends to church. Making the most of every opportunity.

9:44 AM  
Blogger Brian Nicklaus said...

maybe at some point we were...
and maybe now we are still a "church-going nation"
but there is a big difference between a disciple of Jesus and a church-goer who is "good" and does "good" things and occasionally visits a church building.

I think we confuse the two and assume too much about our country.

8:08 AM  
Blogger Velcro said...

I think that most of the time, the church (in general terms) is fishing out of other fishbowls.

10:17 AM  
Blogger Edward Benesh said...

Excellent article. We need to convince more men of this simple fact, though many are already.

1:36 PM  
Blogger Mike Exum said...

Preacherman,

I have too many thoughts on the American mission field to make a simple comment here and even come close to a well rounded response to your post. I appreciate your interest...

I will say one thing which actually connects to another recent post of yours- I offer communion to street people as a form of mission. I take the King's Table, the messianic/eschatological banquet, the Lord's Supper (as we usually call it), to the street and share it with pimps, ho's, gangbangers, drug dealers and their kids.

I suspect I am getting too broad to suggest that I am at war with America. The American Empire, which technically is Western Economic Empire, is deeply at odds with the Kingdom of God. God is taking REVOLUTION to the streets, and I have joined it. And the Supper is crucial to that mission.

My motto is "Go to the place of shame, pain, and despair in your community and bear the image of God there." I believe the deed can take many possible expressions, and the Supper is ours.

The topic, in just these terms, comes up very often on my blog. Thanks for discussing it on yours.

Many blessings...

7:48 PM  
Anonymous Bill said...

Mike,
God bless you in you ministry brother. I love your point of going as you said it, "The place of shame, pain and despair, and bear the image of God there." Amen. How true. I believe that is the way to reach the lost in America. We must go where they are. Jesus did just that. Are we afraid to go to gay bars, the ghetto, and other places where sin is in order to reach the lost. Are we willing to invite and take the lost to church? We must.
Great point Mike and God bless your ministry.

8:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Preacherman,
Great post. Excellent thoughts. We must see America as a mission point and seek to save our neighbors and community for Christ. I believe as Ancient Wonderer said, we have been to focused as a church on self. Selfish ambitions and programs in the church get in the way of true out reach. I believe one on one is the best way to reach the lost. One person at a time.

8:06 PM  
Blogger Alan said...

I remember a sermon I heard about 30 years ago (imagine that!) where the preacher said we don't need to send a bunch of half-committed Christians out evangelizing. He said "If you only lead one soul to the savior, make sure it is your own." The student will become like his teacher. We need to get our own spiritual house in order, and as people reach that point they will be the kind of teachers and examples that people can safely follow. Maybe that is why, as fswtkies wrote, the scriptures focus much more attention on teaching us "how to be" rather than on evangelism.

8:23 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Sometimes I think about who we are all blogging to (with?), and I think that says something. If we're not reaching out here, we probably aren't reaching out too much in other places either.

7:29 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Great thoughts and ideas everyone.
I hope and pray that as ministers, church leaders, Christians, we will all do our part to reach our neighbors, co-workers, family members, and all those who need Jesus Christ.
God bless what you and your congregations are doing to reach out to the lost in America.

12:45 AM  
Blogger Little Light said...

Becoming true friends with non-Christians and not just friends with an alterior motive is key. First of all, we can't assume that we know what a person believes and does just because they are not a Christ follower and if we approach any kind of teaching that way, we're only going to create more enemies. You can't go into the ghetto expecting to find people smoking crack at every corner and an obligation to stop them with the word of God. You have to go in with the intention of developing relationships with people.

I understand and appreciate the people who come to New York to preach the word, invite people to church etc. because I've been there, but it irks even me when there is a presumption that I must not be saved or I must be immoral because I don't come from their community or church and I know it irks other people - Christians and non-Christians alike. I know someone who is trying to teach Christ generally has their heart in the right place, but it sometimes comes off as patronizing. Most people do believe in the Golden Rule even if they don't associate it with Christ and we should perhaps begin at a point where we do agree not where we think we don't.

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