Thursday, June 22, 2006

unchurching the churched?

One of our staff members was speaking in our Community Worship time and made this statement (and then he helped me track down the actual quotation):

"There are many churches these days that instead of reaching the unchurched are unchurching the churched." [Michael Horton, A Better Way (Baker, 2002) 211]

What dya reckon?

nice chatting

Paul

6 comments:

Tash said...

interesting indeed. who is church for? the influence of the boomer mandante 'seeker-friendly' lurks in the shadows somewhere does it not?

BJ said...

Its a start ;)

Andy said...

I'm not sure that I like it. I know the sentiment and it reasonates BUT is it a Biblical ambition? Is it something to strive for?

Surely the Church is a congregation of the Faithfilled rather than an adjective.

It may well be that the Church is needed to be refreshed in the vision to reach those still under sin and Wrath but in doing so do the people of the Church become more profoundly Church-ed.

Also, does it make anyone else uneasy to talk about 'unchurched' as though atheists, agnostics, buddhists, muslims, hindus and every other faith/non-faith community can be catalogued by that which they do not do?

Further to that does the 'unchurched' designation imply that what these people need is a church community rather than a relationship with Christ born in repentance from sin and played out in the context of the community of believers who live in but not of the world?

as BJ says, its a start: but will it lead to a good start and a clear finish?

Paul Windsor said...

Yeah, I find this use of the word 'churching' (de-; un- ...) pretty crass and banal. But I feel some sympathy with the sentiment that lies behind it. As Tash says it makes us ask 'who is church for?'

If the New Testament is our basis then there is an awful lot about maturing-people and growing-people-into-holiness and building-Christlikeness-into-people in the New Testament. If these things are NOT prioritised ('unchurching the churched'?) then that resource for the task of mission ('reaching the unchurched'?) is undermined.

One other comment - I have sympathy with Marva Dawn's concern when she asserts that the purpose of the 'worship service' is to be God-focused, not unreached-focused. The fact that the church-at-worship now carries the burden of evangelism is testament to the fact that we have failed in evangelism where it is primarily meant to be happening: beyond the church-at-worship as it scatters out into families and workplaces and various relational networks.

BJ said...

Your last comment Paul is where my one liner was coming from. There is a tendency to be so busy DOING church that we forget to BE the church. In that sense the lure of church culture compromises the degree to which we are engaged with people in the various communities in which we live. So "unchurching the unchurched" might include breaking the hold that church culture has on people. I am constantly amazed at how quickly we retreat into our church as enclave mentality - I see it in my own faith community which has an overt values commitment to being a different kind of church!

eddie said...

I quite like Eddie Gibb's terminology of the loosed, the lapsed, and the lost.

See his Leadership Next, p 68