We have inherited a faith formed by a Jewish man and a band of his friends, which became a global movement with three centers (Rome, Constantinople, and North Africa) in its first 500 years. The North African center was decimated by Islam in the 7th – 9th centuries, leaving two centers, which coexisted until about 1000 AD, when they split. The Roman Church became the center of Western culture until about 500 years ago. Then, the faith we have inherited re-formed in a multi-faceted argument with medieval Western Christianity.
…then re-formed several more times in a series of debates within various forms nominal modern Christianity.
The faith we have inherited was additionally deeply influenced by the skepticism, secularism, and consumerism of modernity. Our faith was additionally deeply influenced by 19th century revivalism and “revived revivalism” in the mid-20th century. This version of the Christian faith which we have inherited presents us with a number of categories for discipleship or “spiritual growth,” several of which are being re-thought (and re-formed) today.
In today’s world, how do we communicate ancient truth with depth? And how do we call people in a non-committal world to the self-sacrifice, embodied in life of Christ?
It was C.S. Lewis who was asked if he was high church or low church to which he replied, “I’m deep church.” He used the phrase “deep church” to describe the body of believers committed to mere Christianity. As we enter the 3rd millennium as a church, we are in the midst of great reconsideration. We are asking if the forms of church we have inherited are the right forms for the mission of the future. For some of us, those forms will be rejected and deconstructed. Others will seek to defend and restore them.
These two questions personally cause me to wrestle with creative thinking and engaging the process of discipleship. Ministry can be a lot of things but at the end of the day, ministry for me is mentoring. Future pastors and leaders desperately need mentors, the research shows about 5-7 mentors over the course of their life for successful and sustained faith.
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