I came across a very interesting concept in The Naked Anabaptist. In a listing of seven ways the church will change as we move to a post-Christendom environment, the sixth change is:
- From maintenance to mission: in Christendom the emphasis was on maintaining a supposedly Christian status quo, but in post-Christendom it is on mission within a contested environment.
There is an assumption of the status quo and a lot of the writings about the church have to do with maintaining the status quo. There is a lot of hand-wringing over the good old days which rarely go past 1517. Christendom infects most of Western Christianity and indeed sees the faith as something tangible to be maintained by supporting programs, denominations, buildings, etc. In the post-Christendom era perhaps we will see less energy devoted to maintaining this assumed Christianity and more devoted to the mission of the church, proclaiming the Gospel and living for the Kingdom of God instead of the kingdoms of man. If we lose our fear of losing the traditions we have come to associate with Christianity and instead focus on the purpose of Christianity, we will all be better off. Perhaps, almost certainly not, in the ways the world counts important (money, respect, comfort) but definitely in the Kingdom of God sense. Christianity never operates as the default but is always counter-cultural.