The Younger Evangelicals
Well I am definitely not a “traditional evangelical” or a “pragmatic evangelical”. I guess that makes me a “younger evangelical”.
Talk to me community.
The Younger Evangelicals: Facing the Challenges of the New World. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2002.
According to Webber, traditional evangelicals are defined as those who think of Christianity primarily as a rational worldview and thus appeal to evidential, foundationalist apologetics. Traditional evangelicals tend to link patriotism and Christianity. These churches tend to be rural or neighborhood churches and are pastor-centered; most programs (such as for the youth) are church-centered. Sunday school is primarily information-centered, and the worship style is traditional and restrained. Evangelism is typically in mass form (e.g., crusades), and social action is focused on political issues such as abortion and homosexuality.
Pragmatic evangelicals tend to think of Christianity as answers to life’s needs and thus their apologetics tend to emphasize experiential, personal faith as giving meaning to life. They strive for culturally-sensitive, market-driven approaches to church growth, tending toward the suburban megachurch model. Leadership tends to be developed on a managerial (CEO) model, and programs (such as for the youth) tend to be outreach focused events. Sunday school tends to target generational groups and needs, and the worship style is contemporary. Evangelism focuses on bringing people into seeker-sensitive services in the church. Social action is focused on need driven support groups (divorce, drug rehab, etc.) in addition to larger political issues.
Lastly, younger evangelicals tend to think of Christianity as participation in a community of faith called out by God. Their apologetics, therefore, tend to emphasize community, with a focus on an embodied apologetic and a lived metanarrative. Rather than combining Christianity and American patriotism or striving to be seeker-sensitive, younger evangelicals tend to emphasize the missional nature of the church, striving to be a counter-cultural community within the world. They tend to start up small churches, often in urban contexts. Their leadership approach is often team-oriented, and their programs (such as for the youth) emphasize small group Bible studies, social action, and interpersonal involvement in existing community organizations and relationships. Their approach to education is to seek out intergenerational formation in community and their worship style is often ancient/future – an attempt to integrate word and flesh, past and present, reason and senses in the life of the community. Evangelism and social action are also community-focused, working through the redemption/restoration of individuals, families, neighborhoods, and cities.