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worldview and missional church

My global leadership cohort is going through a course right now called "Contemporary Culture in Missiological Perspective." That's a fancy way of telling us that we're going to learn something along the lines of this: that there are very good reasons why we should be looking at our American (and Western) culture as if we're missionaries. We can't just assume that everyone has the same worldview, or that Christianity is still the dominant worldview and system of values. That has HUGE implications.

I mean, think about the missionary analogy. Bob Roberts, Jr. asks a great question in his book, Transformation - What if the Church were the missionary? Wow, what a piercing question laden with implications. We aren't in Christendom any more, nor are we in Kansas any more, Toto. We no longer have home court advantage. So we have to take the perspective of missionaries - learn (or in our case, re-learn) the language, the stories, the customs, the values, the communication, of our culture. We have to utilize all those as newfound avenues to the gospel.

So here's a few of my miniscule thoughts on worldview:

I'm always surprised whenever I look at the Western cultural values and how they have been absorbed into the church and also my own value system. I am a child of my culture, and that is never so clear as when I look I look at the differences between the two. I'm an individualist, an isolationist, a consumerist, and I find that the idolatry of power is not fully dead in my heart just yet. Nietzsche would be proud.

The Western worldview is individualistic, isolationistic and consumeristic. The Biblical worldview, by contrast, is communal, missional and sacrificial. There are distinct similarities between the Western worldview and the church, unfortunately. The Western church views salvation, community and mission strictly in terms of it's individualistic view, and emphasizes the individual and his/her needs in all of this. Also, the church's structures, values and mission have been co-opted by Western culture. The Western culture, in it's worship of power, values hierarchical structures and ascent by means of upward mobility. This is all too familiar in the Western church. The Western culture values prosperity in it's pursuit of autonomy (and isolation). The church has also absorbed these values, along with individualism, and many times turns God's promises into a cosmic lottery where the jackpot is upward mobility socially and socio-economically.

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