Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ian Mobsby on Post-Christendom church

Ian Mobsby was this week Carey college's after lunch speaker. He seemed like areally good bloke with a fascinating story. He was talking alot about the change from Christendom, that is where the world in which we live is essentially a Christian one, to post-Christendom, where Christian are on the margins of a secularised society. His main thing seemed to be that church were clinging to traditional ways of doing church which had worked during Christendom but were now not applicable. He was surprisingly non-judgemental but just quite matter of fact in how he felt 'traditional' churches needed to change.

He advocated moving from:
Traditional ways of doing church to ones which are designed to engage with our communities.
A pastor model where the onus is looking after people who are in church to a missionary model where the focus is on reaching those in the community.
Shallow communities to ones that went deep.
Emphasising doctrine and head knowledge to emphasising praxis and right living.
Expecting everything to be paid for to being entrepenurial and sacrificial in service.
Preaching Jesus is your best friend to a robust Trinitarian preaching.
Therapy for individuals to establishing communities into which individuals can become integrated.
Expecting results in a few years to being in mission for the long haul.

Let me know what you think :-)


  1. "Emphasising doctrine and head knowledge to emphasising praxis and right living."

    1st - what does praxis mean? ;-)

    2nd - I'll tell you what happens when you do this - the church dies. It no longer knows what it believes and is more interested in doing "nice" things. It then doesn't pass the faith onto its children and we have the situation where there are a handful of nice old ladies who think that Christianity is about being good and haven't a clue about Jesus and his saving work for sinners.
    Welcome to the Protestant Mainline, don't join in.

    3rd - didn't Pelagius make the same comment?

    Sorry, Jon, I'm causing trouble again aren't I? However, I agree with an end to this: "Preaching Jesus is your best friend" and the last point.

  2. I agree with most of what this guy is saying. In fact, I think that the post-Christendom church probably looks pretty similar to the pre-Christendom church shown in Acts.
    Personally, I think that "doctrine and head knowledge" have been used as a mechanism throughout the ages by the church to exclude people who haven't fitted the mold. I like the focus on community.

  3. What did Peter and Paul preach in Acts? Not community but Jesus. And that excluded people.

  4. Hi Guys, thanks for the comments. Unsurprisingly for a Baptist college the whole doctrine verses praxis thing was immediatley jumped on as suspect (praxis is the greek word for Acts - but tends to be used today to describe putting ideas into action). But of course praxis requires ideas in the first place. Ian was quick to say Bible study and theology were important, and they obviously have to be to fulfill some of his other criteria. But as the letter from James is fond of saying 'faith without works is dead' his point was that we put all our effort into making sure we believe the right stuff but not into how what we believe is worked out in action. I think the Apostle Paul would agree, just see how much of his letters are actually aplication rather than theology.

    Right living should not be interpreted as doing nice things, it would include, for example, sacrificial service to those in need and evangelism, both of which are motivated by a personal appropriation of the gospel.

  5. I was not suggesting doing nice things - I was suggesting living genuine community with Christ at the head. Christ himself said, "They will know you are my disciples, by the love you show one another." I think that both Jesus and Paul expected the people of God to live right.
    I imagine that this meant not to argue amongst ourselves as to whether we are "pre-tribulation" or "post-tribulation" believers, or whether we believe in a six-day creation or evolution. These are the kind of things I was referring to when I said "doctrine", not things like the nature and character of God.
    (I realise that I'm not even talking about what Ian said now...)