BY STEVE DUNN
There is a mission field outside your front door. Each week as you leave your Sunday worship gathering, you enter the mission field that is the prevailing culture. The prevailing culture is not the same, in most cases, as your preferred culture or the churched culture you grew up in. The prevailing culture is increasingly unchurched, possessing no significant Christian roots, and embracing values largely shaped by our secularized world. There may still be churches in almost every neighborhood but few people from this mission field enter through their doors.
Inside the walls of those church buildings are many Christians whose focus is inward, largely out of touch and without any significant influence on their community. Dan Kimball calls this “the Christian bubble.” And many Christians seem content with this reality, especially as the outside world grows more hostile to the faith once delivered unto the saints.
When Christians come out of their fortresses, the come out like Jonah; to protest something they don’t like, despising the people they must come into contact with. They come out to fight a culture war. Jonah may have been the most successful 2evangelist in history, but he is not the model of a Christian evangelist.
God is out of sight and out of mind to many people in the prevailing culture. Because of the Christian bubble, the only Christians they are often aware of are the extremists and the hateful Christians that the media often focuses on. They think of Christians as judgmental and negative, and the last thing they want to be is one.
On the other side, Christians often have no clue of what people in the prevailing culture are really like. They view these non-Christians as immoral when really they are more amoral than anything, lacking a clear moral compass. They view these folks as people whose defects and sins as persons who will easily corrupt a pure church, and so the general desire is to protect oneself and one’s children from them. There is little knowledge of the needs, the dreams, the hurts, the hopes, the heroes of the prevailing culture.
Outside the front door is a mission field that people inside the churches are often ill-equipped to reach. They need to take lesson from missionaries who go to a mission field, seek to understand, learn its values, and find positive means to re-present the gospel of Jesus Christ in a new setting.
(c) 2012 BY Stephen L Dunn
NOTE: THIS IS AN EXCERPT FROM A NEW BOOK “THE BRIDGEBUILDERS PRINCIPLE” TO BE RELEASED IN NOVEMBER 2012. IT IS BEING PUBLISHED IN COOPERATION WITH THE COMMISSION ON EVANGELISM AS A RESOURCE TOOL FOR THE BRIDGEBUILDERS SEMINARS.