What can we learn from other cultures? For some time conservative evangelicals point to the decline in church attendance in Europe as reason to avoid perceived cultural and ecclesial mistakes. Attempts to avoid what someone else faces without properly understanding their culture is risky at best and culturally arrogant at worst. If we could find a commonalty with a comparable culture would we be willing to listen to the self-critical analysis as well as thee hope filled voices of those who speak? Darryl Dash, who pastors in Toronto, offers some thoughts in a recent article titled, “Navigating the Church in a perfect storm.”
Some blogs and blog comments I have read recently think we can somehow relocate a form of Christianity from another day without recognizing the cultural contextualization of that era. What’s more, there is a postulation today is no different that yesteryear. There well may be merits and elements of those expressions of the faith valuable for us today. To dismiss the differences between a “then” and “now” under the pretext there is “nothing new under the son,” may well miss a small reference in the Scriptures to the “sons of Issachar” who understood their times.
Darryl Dash appears to capture some of the trends found in both church and culture in Canada. Sharing the North American context with Darryl and those in Canada may well offer a “comparative civilization” from which we can learn. (Due to the nature of such pieces you would understand the inability to tease out all of the nuances of Dash’s assertions.) He concludes thee hopefulness toward which we could look forward as he concludes the article,
The end of Christendom is not a threat to the gospel. In fact, the gospel first took root in a society much like ours, in a secular world at a time of massive change. According to the book of Acts, it did very well. The soil of post-Christendom Canada may be more fertile than we realize.
Culture has shifted, but some of that shift is good. Some of the old culture of modernity was bad, and some, but not all, of the new culture is good. After all, the gospel transcends culture. Our challenge is to learn the skills of a missiologist right here at home.
Churches are struggling, but weâ??Ã?Ã´re learning to depend on God in new ways, and to rethink what it means to be the Church. New churches are starting, and some older churches are learning what it means to be faithful in a new context. We are learning through experience that God is more than equal to the challenges we face.
The odds are stacked against us, but itâ??Ã?Ã´s a good time to remind ourselves that God has never paid much attention to the odds.
If the Church can sense the spiritual longing of culture, think like missiologists and depend on God in new ways, there is every reason to hope, even in the middle of this perfect storm. It is not the easiest time to be a Christian leader in Canada, but there has never been a better time.