Back when people drove FJ Holdens and watched black and white TVs, Christianity was a respected part of Australian culture. Well… grudgingly respected. Christian values were assumed to be right, Christian leaders were respected in the community, and people were pretty much in the church habit. At least at Christmas and Easter. Australia is no longer like that. We realise weʼre a minority. We realise most people donʼt automatically endorse Christian values just because we ʻsay so.ʼ We donʼt expect people to know much about Church. We expect to start from the ground up, and show graciously and tell clearly why itʼs still worth trusting and following Jesus – without assuming that everyone else will think weʼre right. In other words, we realise weʼre living in a post-Christendom world.
For an example of gracious, biblical engagement with those who don’t know Jesus? Check out Tim Keller speaking to Google.
For an example otherwise, watch this video:
Here’s an excellent article by Keller on “Civility“. According to Keller,
Churches are now perceived as being reactionary, judgmental, and hypocritical, and the number of Americans listing their religious preference as “None” has shot up from 5-7% of the population (where it had been for decades) to 17% of the population and more like 30% among younger adults. The churches that have estranged younger people are largely the evangelical churches that are perceived as taking on a vitriolic, harsh, condemning tone toward nonbelievers and contemporary society.
Click here to read hymn writer John Newton’s thoughts on handling controversy.
Here’s a summary of what this DNA strand is all about – as a church, we want to aim for cultural engagement. Not cultural head-butting.