I grew up in a world where it wasn’t too much to ask for people to convert to church culture before they converted to Christ. The distance between those two, in many communities, was insignificant. However, the home court advantage we once enjoyed as the Church no longer exits, and as a result, we are a missional people called to a world where the rules of engagement have changed. This change caught many of us off guard. If we are perfectly honest with ourselves, we no longer know how to engage the world with the gospel; instead we hunker down where it is safe. We have created our own Christian culture of isolation, characterized by our own schools, our own television shows, our own coffee shops, our own colleges, networks, sports leagues, and entertainment parks. We have become islands unto ourselves. It’s not that we don’t believe in the Great Commandment or the Great Commission, or that we don’t like people who are disconnected from Christ, we just don’t know what to do to escape from our islands.
This book is about bursting our religious bubbles and engaging the world. We can no longer look at missions as something we accomplish in some foreign country. The mission field has come home, and we are right in the middle of it. This book will help you become that missionary to your own culture, to become a missional follower of Jesus. It is about recognizing that we are still the “salt of the earth … and the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:13-16) At the same time, I recognize that somewhere over the last couple of decades our world has changed, and the Christian faith no longer enjoys widespread acceptance as it may once have. Most of us no longer know how to navigate the world as God’s missionary people and his missionary Church, yet there still is a deep moving of God’s spirit in His people and Church. We are hungry for God’s power and movement in and through us, and we are ready to release the religious traditions that we have employed for tradition’s sake. We simply need some permission and perspective for making this bold journey.
Therefore, this book is about our need to rethink years of cultural Christianity which, more often than we want to admit, stands in the way of those outside of Christ. Simply put, some of us were equipped to live the Christian life in a different time and a different age. If you recently entered the church for the first time, you may feel the tension; if you’ve been in church for many years, you may be the tension. I want to call us as followers of Jesus to surrender “the way we’ve always done it” for the sake of those for whom that way hasn’t done anything.