The need for missional transformation…
The notes from the 2008 State of the Conference Address given by LMC moderator Keith Weaver include this summary of the findings reported in unChristian: What the New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity…and Why it Matters–Kinnaman, David & Lyons, Gabe (2007) Grand Rapids, MI: Baker. See interview with David Kinnaman here.
What Kinnaman and Lyons learned is that young people have a very low opinion of Christians. They perceive us to be hypocrites who don’t practice what we preach, boring, unintelligent, old-fashioned, out of touch with reality, preoccupied with a right-wing political agenda, prideful and quick to find faults in others.
By any measure a bleak (although I believe fair) assessment. Yet there is hope. If we are willing to allow the reductions of Gospel–the “Gospel” packaged for the autonomous individualism deeply embedded in our Western cultural narrative–to die. There is hope if we are willing to dismantle the ecclesial narratives that cater to individuals as consumer. There is hope if we are willing to allow the Gospel to shape our communal life. There is hope if we are willing to enter the Community of the Spirit–the Trinitarian reality that is eternal in the communion of saints.
There is hope if we are willing to let the Event of Incarnation, Cross and Resurrection–Gospel–reshape and transform the small narratives that guide our lives…our ideas of church. There is hope if we will live as communities of resistence–challenging the ways in which the powers of the age seek to coopt the Gospel and make it palatable to the enlightened, liberated Self.
There is hope if we are willing to live as a people on the way–not as those who have arrived. There is hope if we are willing to trust the coming of the Kingdom–not to epic acts of “redemptive violence,” but to epic expressions of sacrificial love. This is the way of Jesus. This is the way that many postmodern agnostics are intuitively seeking.
As we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus, may we be drawn deeper into the narrative that offers hope for the human condition.