Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 3:20-21, NIV).
Welcome to the post-church age. Perhaps you have noticedthat the influence of Christianity in the United States is waning, as evidenced in the declining rates of church attendance, religious affiliation, belief in God, prayer and Bible-reading, and knowledge. It would be worrisome not to know any of this because this has been our reality for decades now—and also, you happen to be at a conference seeking to address this phenomenon. Post-church America continues to slowly diminish the role of Christianity in public life with the church no longer functioning with the cultural authority it held in the past.1
The Barna Group identifies post-Christians as individuals with nine or more of the following factors: do not believe in God; identify as atheist or agnostic; disagree that faith is important in their lives; have not prayed to God (in the last week); have never made a commitment to Jesus; have not donated money to a church in the last year; have not attended a Christian church in the last six months; agree that Jesus committed sins; do not feel a responsibility to “share their faith;” have not read the Bible in the last week; have not volunteered at church in the last week; have not attended Sunday school in the last week; have not attended religious small group in the last week; disagree strongly or somewhat, that the Bible is accurate; and are not “born again.”2Pew Research informs us that post-Christians are increasingly becoming “nones”—people who claim to have no religious affiliation at all.3“Nones” are on the rise and include almost one in four of all Americans and about a third of all millennial Americans—a group that is collectively disassociating with all segments of the church.4In this post-church age, this rising group of post-Christians are not simply acquaintances or anonymously online; they are instead our family and friends, our neighbors, and congregants. They are our daughters and sons.
These are unique days for the church in America as it learns what it means to flourish in a new “Post-Christian” era.5Today, our houses are our Jerusalems; our neighborhoods, towns, and cities are our Samarias; and our churches and all those we meet are the ends of our earth to which we have been called. Our sisters and brothers living and choosing to submit to this post-church age as the ultimate reality are the people to whom we have been commissioned by Jesus our Christ, to teach all that he has commanded, to go and make disciples of, and to baptize in the name of God our Father, Christ our Savior, and the Holy Spirit. So welcome again to the post-church age, and welcome to post-Christians who are now presently your mission field.
The purpose of this paper is to identify challenges and opportunities for pastors, church leaders, and the Church as a whole as we minister in this post-church age—especially among the rising tide of millennial “nones.”
Better than simply acknowledging the characteristics of post-Christians is knowing and learning their culture and worldview. This is fundamental as we endeavor to minister in this post-church age by clearly communicating the gospel while recovering and reclaiming the true mission and meaning of our calling as the Church of Christ Jesus. This is also imperative because knowing their culture and worldview opens doors for relationships and reciprocity where we not only share with them the good news of who Jesus is, but through them, God shares with us fresh revelation of his manifold witness and work in our world today.
Andrew F. Walls, in The Missionary Movement in Christian History, introduces the idea that there is “no such thing as a culture free gospel.” By this he means that “. . . the Scriptures are read with different eyes by people in different times and places; and in practice, each age and community makes its own selection of the Scriptures, giving prominence to those which seem to speak most clearly to the community’s time and place and leaving aside others. . . . “6
In light of this knowledge, Walls argues that we must examine the gospel in light of both culture and worldview. Culture is the pattern of learned beliefs and behavior that orders human activities; it is not a random assortment of traits but an integrated coherent way of mentally organizing the world. Basically, culture lasts for a while and it separates a people’s place in the world by how they do what they do, and why.7Worldview is the set of assumptions that underlie a culture and provide people with a way of looking at the world.8
So what is the culture of today’s millennial? What is their worldview? What is their understanding of Scripture, or even better, how do they understand God? How do they see God with new and fresh eyes? How is God at work among them and in this world, or is God only limited to working in those of us who already believe and choose to follow Jesus? And lastly, how do we build reciprocal relationships to share the good news of Jesus while also receiving fresh revelation that grows our faith and brings us closer to on earth as it is in heaven? Or, how is God moving and working in these young adults we pretend are too far away from God’s love and touch?
It may be impossible to understand post-Christian millennials in the post-church age without a basic understanding of today’s current postmodernity (or post-postmodernity, depending on your source). That is, we have graduated from living in the modern era of enlightenment confidence in human reason, and now live in an era not yet wholly defined. Today’s postmodernity is the in-between time. It has made us, with millennials leading the charge, to be more experiential than propositional when it comes to truth; more communal than individualistic; valuing authenticity over theory; understanding struggle more than naïve certainty; and committed to growing and being in process as opposed to complete “finished articles.”9
Perhaps a more concrete way of understanding the culture and worldview of any people group is to discover their values. By understanding the motivations and what post-Christian millennials hold in high esteem, we can begin to uncover why some walk away from their faith and the church. We can learn why some have no desire to turn to God (religion) or the church. We can learn both where we (the church) are falling short, and also areas where we can improve to bring our lost sisters and brothers back home again. Understanding values instructs us on culture and worldview, but it also gives us starting points of commonality and the blessing of being able to reach our kin where they are in the hope of taking them where God desires them to be.
In unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity…and Why it Matters, David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons document that those outside the faith, especially young people (millennials), think that Christians here in North America are hypocritical, uncaring, bigoted, out of touch with reality, too motivated by political agenda, and judgmental.10 Perception matters. However, while I find this helpful mirror very instructive for our own self-reflection as North American Christians, it is almost just as perfectly ineffective and inadequate for understanding what post-Christians truly value. Learning what someone thinks of us does not clearly nor automatically communicate what he or she actually values.
In Abandoned Faith: Why Millennials Are Walking Away and How You Can Lead Them Home, authors Alex McFarland and Jason Jimenez highlight the values of millennials, the children of this post-church age. McFarland and Jimenez identify: meaningful work (imperative that they work jobs that have a greater impact on society); collaboration (teamwork makes the dream work); staying connected (I really hope our phones won’t give us cancer/who needs friends when you have followers?); social justice (the world’s not as it should be, but we can fight, we can help); diversity (this is good because God’s people have always been diverse, and bad because the Western Church has not been); spiritual but not religious (they don’t mind talking about spirituality, they just have strong feelings about our old wineskins); education (they know lots and have access to more information than arguably any generation prior); skepticism (you name it—government, institutions, corporations, churches, relationships—and we are cynically skeptical about it).11
Engaging post-church millennial values
Equipped with a generalized understanding of postmodernity (we are sandwiched in between modernity and the world to come that we are still struggling to define),12culture (that which both lasts for a while and also separates a people’s place in the world by how they do what they do, and why),13and the post-Church worldview as evidenced through post-Christian millennial values, we can now engage these values. Our goal is not simply to react, but to test out Walls’ “no culture free” gospel and learn how we can minister in today’s post-church age.
To do so, we must first dismiss our common thinking that post-Christians (even when they are rejecting us, and our pews) are out of the reach of God’s love and touch. They are not. We know this because in their values we see how God is meeting them where they are, how God is already at work among them and in this world, and that God is not limited to working and driving only in the lanes the church creates.
Learning these values and seeing how they point to God help to equip and empower us to go out and build reciprocal relationships to share the good news of Jesus while also receiving fresh revelation (how God is already at work), that grows our faith and brings us closer to “your kingdom come, and your will be done.”
Post-Christians value meaningful work.
Though they start out wanting to change the world but not knowing how, quite often they end up hired or committing to or financially and/or voluntarily supporting what they deem as meaningful work (i.e. charities and nonprofits, non-governmental organizations, local social service centers and programs, etc.). And if they do not currently do meaningful work, they have in the past or they know and love someone who does that work, right now. Doing something that matters, making a difference, shining a light in the darkness, and bringing wholeness and healing to a broken world should not be foreign to the church. The post-Christian millennial who is wired to do meaningful work is quite often displaying the heart of God our Father—just like Jesus did. For example, by how he lived and loved, Jesus not only showed how to please God, but in so doing, he raised the perceived value of human life—especially for women, children, the sick and the oppressed.14
Since the beginning, Jesus’ followers have chosen to follow his example to protect the vulnerable and forgotten, feed the hungry and heal the sick, clothe the naked and love the imprisoned, and make the stranger a friend and a sister or brother. Showing the heart of our Father is doing justice, loving mercy (chesed/agape – the idea of doing what is best for the other), and walking in shalom (right relationship) with our God (which John reminds us is impossible if we do not love our brothers and sisters who we see). If we desire to reach post-Christians, we must be willing to join them in the meaningful work they are already doing. This means that we must go to them, and join in the kingdom work they are already doing.
We worship a God who humbly left heaven to take on skin and be a servant of all. Serving alongside young people who are trying to make a difference is a great way to see the Father’s heart revealed as you live to love those who you serve and those with whom you serve. This also then means that our buildings and internal programs must no longer define us, because we the church are a family (God’s family) empowered by the Spirit to make “on earth as it is in heaven” possible.
Post-Christians value collaboration.
In their families, in their schools, on their teams, and now in their workplaces, millennials are a generation defined by the need for teamwork. Rugged individualism might have been a lie some have held on to for far too long, but millennials will have none of it. They know the value each person brings to the table, the importance of each individual voice, and that we are all equipped with unique skill sets that need collaboration not just for complementation, but also for ultimate success
The church is the Body of Christ. We are a family (the family of God) in which God gives each person the gifts, skills, and abilities to minister and make unique contributions to the Body and to our world. Just like each part of the physical body depends on the rest for its wellbeing, the church is an organism with no useless organs; every single person matters. We have been blessed with spiritual gifts so we can do our part and know the satisfaction, fulfillment, and joy that brings, as we see sisters and brothers edified, equipped, and empowered, and as we see each other live and work to bring God glory.15
The post-Christian millennial who deeply values and is wired for collaboration is tailor-made for entrance in the Body of Christ. This means that (especially) when millennials are present among us, we must commit to discipleship that matures them in Christ and equips them to use their gifts. Jesus spoke to tens of thousands; perhaps thousands believed, hundreds followed him, 72 were sent out, 12 were disciples, four (Peter, Andrew, James, and John) formed his inner circle, and one inarguably was his best friend (John). To change the word and usher in our Father’s kingdom, Jesus invested in a small group of 12 disciples so they could internalize his message and ministry and then multiply it. Since Jesus calls us to go and make disciples, we must commit to providing a nurturing environment that grows self-initiating, reproducing, fully devoted followers of Jesus.
Post-Christians value staying connected.
We have all witnessed the scene—a group of young people sitting around a table laughing, joking, and having a good time, but everyone is on a cell phone and no one is conversing. It happens all the time, and it is probably happening right now, somewhere in America. There is a good chance none of us in this room can even name all the social networking sites on which the millennials and young people we know and love spend way too much time. Yet when we step off our high horse, we may realize that perhaps our children and kin crave connection because we have been terrible at community; perhaps they would rather socially network on the chance that they will find safe places to be themselves or people who will listen—people they believe actually care.
Some churches have become more aware that if millennials and post-Christians are spending most of their time online, it is imperative that we prioritize communications that connect through these means (website, social media, mobile messaging, etc.).16This is important, but not nearly the most important aspect of the post-Christian’s need to connect. Another facet of being the Body of Christ, in addition to the unity in diversity of our gifts, is this simple truth: we are members of one another. Simply put, we need each other; and that is okay. The New Testament church lived to communicate this concept through koinonia,with the idea being that isolation leads to atrophy.17We are relational beings created for relationship. The millennial search for connection and community is both a reminder that only God truly fulfills and that the church has something to offer that gives life, builds up, and allows people to come home and stay awhile. Modernity has made us especially focus on segmenting the Body (children, youth, young adults, married, singles, divorced, widows, seniors, etc.) in the name of programming. Perhaps our millennials are calling us back to the family dinner table, instead of only going out with our friends. Perhaps as the church, we need to think creatively about how to connect more intergenerationally, how to create more safe spaces for dialogue and conversations, and how to define identity in Christ that is not just creating Jesus in our own image.
Post-Christians value social justice.
Ask a millennial what they are passionate about, and by the fifth question, you may identify three different causes. Celebrity for all its ills now comes dressed with a ready-to-order social justice platform. With millennials leading the way, it is now nearly impossible to find a celebrity who does not have a cause, or causes to which they give sponsorship, their time, dollars, and yes, even their hearts. Social justice is indeed the love child of the millennial and her desire to make a difference in this world—so much so that they are willing to put their voices, their hearts, their money, their time, and their votes to see change happen.
The church would do well to remember that our Lord recalled (and embodied) Isaiah’s prophecy, saying, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19). We would do well to remember that our Lord has said to us that whenever we feed the hungry, we feed him; whenever we give water to the thirsty, we give it to him; whenever we invite a stranger in, we welcome him home; whenever we clothe the naked, we clothe the Savior; whenever we look after the sick, we heal him; and whenever we visit the imprisoned, we visit him.
If the church wants to captivate the minds and hearts of the post-Christian, we have to live and love like Jesus our Christ—for the Lord is in heaven preparing a place for all who believe, yet he has left and depends on the Spirit and the church to be the light of the world who bring wholeness where there is brokenness. Remember, we are always called to be engaged in a movement of life, love, and freedom that is God’s for us; we must be strong, aware, thoughtful, and true witnesses of what it means to be people of faith in a broken world.18
Post-Christians value diversity.
They are arguably the first generation where diversity is not seen simply as threat. This is not to say that they are immune from the smog of racism and white supremacy that so easily ensnares us in these United States. They are, however, the most racially diverse generation in American history with fewer than six in 10 identifying as white.19This means that their families, neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, marriages, and now children are all more diverse than we have ever seen.
However, the church has not followed suit. We may know (or remember) that in April 1960, on Meet The Press, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King remarked, “I think it is one of the tragedies of our nation, one of the shameful tragedies, that eleven o’clock on Sunday morning is one of the most segregated hours, if not the most segregated hour, in Christian America. I definitely think the Christian church should be integrated, and any church that stands against integration and that has a segregated body, is standing against the spirit and the teachings of Jesus Christ, and it fails to be a true witness.”20Dr. King said that in 1960, and due to our neglect or perhaps intentionality, it is still true today.
Today Sunday mornings remain one of the most segregated times in American life. More than eight in 10 congregations are made up of one predominant racial group. And herein lies the rub, most Christians surveyed like it this way, with two-thirds of churchgoers saying they believe that the church has (already) done enough to become racially diverse.21The terrible trouble with this is that God has always been about all the people, not just who we define as “we the people.” The continuing tragedy of choosing to remain effectively segregated and/or not doing enough to make space at the table for people who do not look like us is not simply that we will continue to miss out on millennials (although that is very true), but also that (as Dr. King said), “our churches now in essence stand against the spirit and the teachings of Jesus Christ, while failing to be a true witness.”22
Post-Christians value spirituality but not religiosity.
It is easy to confuse this position with having a lack of interest in deep matters. It does not help that millennials might be the least overtly religious American generation, ever. They are not only leaving the church, but the ones who are staying do not show up as often as we would like. And while we are very well versed in Christianese (or internal Christian language, stereotypes, or even traditions), to post-Christians it is jargon that they do not know and (sometimes) have no desire to understand.23
This speaks to our need for complete authenticity. Some post-Christians may not think very highly of the church or Christians, but they all tend to have a healthy disdain for anyone they see as inauthentic and counterfeit. Remember, God is not so much concerned about our inabilities, but our ability and willingness to be used as God’s instruments.24A commitment to being genuine, and to tell our story and how God has worked and is working in us, will take us much farther with this generation.
God has always worked and desired to work in and with his people. With God doing his part (drawing all persons to Christ) and God’s people doing their part (being genuine and bold enough to share our stories), together, we are able to speak clearly and contextually to the world. And as for Christianese, pastor and author Brian Zahnd once remarked: “Religion as meritocracy is wrong. But religion as the healthy practices of spiritual formation is what we want to embrace.”25Post-Christians see through the lie of religion as a meritocracy, but deeply need spiritual formation. We would do well to remember this—and then do something about it.
Post-Christian millennials value education.
They are likely to become the most educated generation in American history, undoubtedly due to our current knowledge-based economy.26As stated earlier, they also may have access to more people and information than any other generation that has ever lived. They value expertise and don’t rely on any one person or source to gain more knowledge. And thanks to Google, they actually no longer have to ever wonder about something, they can just ask Siri.
The issue here for us as Christians is that we have gotten really good at positing ourselves as experts not only on our faith, but also on morality, politics, social issues, the economy, etc. The irony is that for many of us so-called expert Christians, we are not experts on spending time with God, being led by God, being shaped by Scripture, listening and submitting to the Spirit, living and loving like Jesus, or working for our Father’s kingdom instead of our own empires and fiefdoms. Add in a serious problem (or two) of dumbing down the faith to the point where science is now the enemy and any new knowledge seems to be a faux credible threat, and you can see how we can fall short with millennials. Solution? Know your history.
God blessed us with minds and the ability to learn so that we can impact this world for the better. It was Christians who pulled Europe out of the Dark Ages. Christian missionaries translated Scripture into thousands of languages partially leading to our current explosive growth in Christianity in the global south. Primarily Christians gave birth to the scientific revolution, and here in the West it was primarily Christians who created our higher education institutions.27For the post-Christian, the church must simply be willing to share our stories and our hearts; we must also be ready and equipped to give credible and clear apology for the faith. We will need it, and we have been blessed with the Spirit and the mind to do it.
Lastly, post-Christian millennials value skepticism.
They are the descendants of “I love your Jesus, but not your Christians.” They look at the church supporting (or looking the other way—but hey, that kind of silence is consent also) and choosing empire over kingdom as evidenced by centuries of white supremacy, war mongering and profiteering, and documented discrimination (even to the point of death) of just about every minority group we have ever had in these United States. We call them post-Christian, but many of them are increasingly asking us, when was America ever really Christian?
Doubt is not the opposite of faith; certainty is. And we have built up our Christianity here in North America with particular certainties that this coming generation refuses to accept. But breathe: we Anabaptists do not have much to worry about. When they critique the empire of America, we should have no desire to defend it because we radical reformers want enhanced separation of church and state to the point of God’s kingdom over empire, every single time. The millennial prophet Chance the Rapper sings what could be the line that woos post-Christians back home again: “…don’t believe in kings, believe in the Kingdom.” Don’t believe in kings, believe in the kingdom.
When post-Christian millennials critique institutions, government, corporations, and yes, even the church, just breathe. They do not have it completely correct. However, we must actively listen because perhaps we need to hear that we are not really post-church America, but really just awake to the true reality that has always been America, and perhaps we can now be Christ’s church. Instead of playing answer women and men, we must embrace the skeptics and take their questions and critiques as opportunities for growth—for them and for us as well.
Conclusion: The good news of cross-cultural translation
With an introduction to our current postmodern (or is it post-postmodern) age, and an insight into the culture, worldview, and values of post-Christian millennials, we are now better equipped to reach out and serve—if we are not paralyzed from being overwhelmed. Nevertheless, breathe, and don’t worry. I would like to close with some good news. We can reach this generation with its evolving culture, worldview, and values because this is what Christianity is designed to do. Furthermore, this is what the church has always historically done.
Christianity by intentional design is translatable.28By this, Andrew Walls means that Christianity is by nature able to go across cultures and transform them because it both values the culture and uplifts the culture to where God desires it to be. We can hopefully engage post-Christians because God is already at work among them. Christianity translates well into this or any new culture because the truth is that none of us can take in a new idea unless it is presented in terms and ideas we already have and understand. The greatness of Christianity is that it’s willing to be presented in light of the culture it’s attempting to penetrate.
The incarnation of Jesus, the Word becoming flesh to dwell among us, is one such translation, and the one used by God to save humanity. Incarnation is translation because when God in Christ became man, divinity was translated into humanity—fulfilling Jewish prophecies (God so loved the world that he sent his Son). The Word was made flesh and fully translated as a human, taking into account the fullest reaches of personality, experience, and social relationship. In essence God is willing to meet people where they are and then be translated into ideas they can understand and relate to, all in order to convert them and begin transforming them into what he desires them to be.29
This pattern of translation in order to convert and ultimately transform is seen repeatedly in the Bible and in the missional history of Christianity. For example, the four gospels all have these principles at work. Matthew was written primarily for Jews of the day. Mark was written for the common person (working class Greek). Luke was written for the educated Greek, and John was written for the second-generation church. All four gospels present the good news of Jesus Christ; each gospel, however, is tailored for its specific audience. God uses these four writers to indigenize (meet the specific audience where they were at) and pilgrimize (lift them up to where he desires them to be), by way of translating the significance of Jesus, called the Christ, so that people and cultures would be converted and transformed.
According to Andrew Walls, “Perhaps it is not only that different ages, nations, and cultures see different things in Scripture—it is that they need to see different things.”30Most impressive about Christianity is that when it penetrates new cultures, all Christians grow in faith and understanding of God. This is perhaps the most exciting aspect about dreaming about what God can and will do with this generation of post-Christians when they are introduced to Jesus and choose to follow him: what will they teach us and how will God use them to enhance the church?
History gives us wonderful precedents, which Walls outlines as six phases of Christian history from Pentecost to the twentieth century.31Each phase represents not only a time period of Christian history, but also a time period in which a specified culture dominated Christian thought and living. Furthermore, each phase highlights certain features and values that could only be made apparent in light of the dominant culture at the time.
In the first phase Christianity was entirely Jewish, but when Jews and Gentiles came together cross-culturally, God used their unity to save Christian faith for the world. In the second phase, Christian faith was dominated by Hellenistic thought and culture; yet in this new culture, orthodoxy (a canon of right belief derived from a logical argument) was introduced, and Christianity was made more complete because of its influence on and from Hellenistic-Roman culture. In the third phase, the collapse of the Western Roman Empire to barbarian tribes and the emergence of Arabs as a major world power ended Hellenistic-Roman Christianity; yet the barbarians who were “supposed” to end Christian civilization become the means through which Christianity was saved as they introduced the idea of a Christian nation(a new hermeneutic paralleling the Christian nation and Israel), and communal acceptance of Christianity.
In the fourth phase, reformation came to the church with Protestants stressing the local encounter of men and women with the Word of God, and Catholics establishing the universality of the church. This phase also gave birth to the concept of Christian faith as a matter of individual decision and individual application. Phase five was characterized by the rapid decline of Christianity in Europe, even though Europe dominated the world. This age helped spread religion (Christianity) all across the globe. Here again, Christianity is saved by its diffusion across cultural lines.
The final phase is one of cross-cultural transmission. In this phase, we are able to see what has always been true with Christianity: it is characterized in history by its spread outward across cultural frontiers, so much so that each new point on the Christian circumference can serve as the potential Christian center.32The cross-cultural nature of Christianity gives hope and proof that God desires all people to be reconciled to him and to one another. According to Mark Laing, the survival of Christianity as a faith has always depended on cross-cultural transmission, something we’ve learned from each of the phases described by Walls.33
In each phase of Christian history, there has been a transformation of Christianity as it has entered and penetrated another culture. What it means to be a Christian has always been uniquely determined by the dominant culture.34The rest of the world is now embracing the gospel and bringing to light the diversity to which God calls the church to since we are indeed Christ’s Body; this transformational shift has led not to just survival but to expansive growth in the global south (Africa, Asia, and Latin America).35
We can do the same here because of the cross-cultural nature of Christianity. In doing so, we can live a faith that unites all of God’s children despite of our differences in race, socio-economic status, education, age (the primary focus of this conference) or any other label we have used to separate. God has always met people and cultures where they are, before pulling them to where he desires them to be. This has always been the work of God throughout Christian history. This is the work that can save people today from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to Miami, Florida, to Upland, California. This work—your work—with a post-church generation and with Christ’s gospel is able to enter and penetrate culture, change worldviews and values, turn sinners into saints and with the Spirit’s help, bring the lost children back home to our Father.
 Ed Stetzer, “The State of The Church in America: When Numbers Point to a New Reality, Part 3,” Christianity Today, September 16, 2016, http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2016/september/state-of-church-in-america-part-3.html.
Michael Lipka, “Millennials Increasingly are Driving Growth of Nones.” Pew Research Center, accessed November 6, 2017, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/05/12/millennials-increasingly-are-driving-growth-of-nones/.
See Alex McFarland, “8 Values That Drive Millennials,” May 22, 2017, http://alexmcfarland.com/media/8-values-that-drive-millennials/.
Martin Luther King, Jr., “Interview on ‘Meet the Press,’” interview by Frank Van der Linden, May Craig, Anthony Lewis and Lawrence E. Spivak, Meet the Press, April 17, 1960, The Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project, Stanford University, http://okra.stanford.edu/transcription/document_images/Vol05Scans/17Apr1960_InterviewonMeetthePress.pdf.
See Bob Smietana, “Sunday Morning in America Still Segregated – and That’s OK with Worshipers,” LifeWay Research, January 15, 2015, http://lifewayresearch.com/2015/01/15/sunday-morning-in-america-still-segregated-and-thats-ok-with-worshipers/.
Brian Zahnd and Peri Zahnd, “Meeting House Roundtable,” October 22, 2017, The Meeting House Canada, mp3, http://media.themeetinghouse.ca/roundtable/2017-10-22-roundtable.mp3.
Lamin Sanneh, “The Gospel, Language, and Culture: The Theological Method in Cultural Analysis,” International Review of Mission 84, nos. 332/333 (January 1995): 47-48. Sanneh notes four unique factors that contribute to Christianity’s expansive growth: it doesn’t demand a geographical center, it is not spread primarily in the language of its founder, it purposely flourishes in the common idioms of each culture it interacts with, and it is the only major world religion that willingly adopt the host culture’s name for God (indigenizing) and redefines it later (pilgrimizing).
Author: Hank Johnson
Hank Johnson is pastor of discipleship and youth at Harrisburg (PA) Brethren in Christ Church. He also served as the immediate past assistant moderator of the Atlantic Conference Board of Directors, and serves on the board of the Sider Institute for Anabaptist, Pietist, and Wesleyan Studies at Messiah College. Previously, he served as youth program director for General Conference and as a member of the planning team for YouthQuest, a conference for Brethren in Christ high school students from the U.S. and Canada.