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Embarking Blog

...on the journey towards restoration of all things

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13 issues for the Church in 2013


Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources and author of several books including Break Out Churches, has written an interesting blog that looks at trends in the church - particularly with the rise of the millennial generation. This list he compiled is largely taken from Sam S. Rainer, senior pastor of Stevens Street Baptist Church in Cookeville, TN, and president of Rainer Research. I'd love to hear what you think about these projections:

  1. The impact of the “nones.” The 2012 study by Pew Research rightfully garnered much attention. The percentage of the adult U. S. population that claims no religious affiliation increased from 15 percent in 2007 to 20 percent in 2012. That is an amazing 33 percent increase in that one category in a relatively short period. One implication for local congregation is the decrease of marginal church attendees, often called “CEO” (Christmas Easter Only) Christians. There is no longer much societal pressure to attend church. Those on the margins are thus falling off completely. There will continue to be a financial impact since these infrequent attendees typically provided some level of giving to their churches.
  2. Migration back to small groups. For three decades, the key emphasis in American church life has been the corporate worship experience. Though that emphasis is not going away, there is an increasing emphasis on moving people to small groups of all kinds: Sunday schools; home groups; life groups; etc. There is an increasing awareness that those who are in groups have a higher level of commitment in almost all areas of church life. As the Sunday school movement swept the nation for a half-century through the 1970s, a similar groups movement is already underway and should gain even more momentum.
  3. Accelerated closing of churches. The institutional church stubbornly resists formal closing. Even if only six or seven people attend each week, those few fight for the survival of their church. Those who were attending these very small churches are either moving to the “nones” category, or they are moving to larger churches. The primary stalwarts to keep the doors open are members of the builder generation, those born before 1946.  As that generation decreases at an increasing rate, more churches will close. Any guess to the number of closings in 2013 is speculation on my part. I wouldn’t be surprised, however, if the numbers reach the 8,000 to 10,000 level.
  4. More churches moving to multiple venues. Membership in Mensa is not a requisite to have an insight on this issue. Just from an anecdotal perspective, the number of congregations moving to multiple venues is staggering. Indeed that issue may be the single greatest distinguishing factor in growing churches. The variety of the venues is increasing as well. Some churches have different venues on the same campus. Others move to multiple campus models. Some have an onsite preacher/teacher; others offer video streaming. Some churches have venues on Sunday only. Other churches have venues up to seven days a week. In the 1960s American congregations moved to multiple worship services in sweeping numbers. That same trend in multiple venues is taking place today. It should accelerate.
  5. The growth of prayer emphases in local congregations. Though prayer is foundational in the life of New Testament congregations, it frankly has not garnered much attention in recent years in American churches. There was a subtle but noticeable shift in 2012. More and more church leaders and members realized that the power and strength of health in their congregations is not human-centered but God-dependent. I am reticent to predict a true prayer revival in our nation, but I am confident in saying that more local congregations will focus on prayer. It will be interesting to see how such an emphasis manifests itself in each local body.
  6. Fickle commitment. In his post, Sam Rainer noted an overall decline in institutional loyalty. It is certainly pervasive in many American congregations. Indeed, the culture of the vast majority of American churches has been one of low commitment. That lower level of commitment is evident, paradoxically, in even the more committed members. Those members who once were present “every time the doors were open” may now be present, for example, 75 percent of the time. It is likely that decreased frequency of active attendees may be the single largest contributor to church decline in the past five years.
  7. Innovative use of space. I recently drove onto a church property located on approximately three to four acres. My consultant training told me that 300 to 500 people could worship on that site. The Millennial pastor who was riding with me said that the site could easily accommodate 2,000 in attendance. The younger pastor did not see limitations of times or days of worship. Indeed that generation will cause us to look anew at church space limitations.
  8. Heightened conflict. The Millennial generation will not accept church-as-usual. They are shaking the status quo in many churches. They are not seeking to be adversarial; they are simply asking tough questions that those of us in older generations were reticent to address. Anecdotally the greatest resistance to change is occurring in the Builder generation and the older Boomer generation (roughly including those born before 1955).
  9. Adversarial government. More public schools and other public facilities will be less accepting of churches meeting in their facilities. Some other local governments are resisting approval of non-tax paying congregations expanding their facilities. New churches and existing churches that are expanding their venues will be forced to become more creative as they look for new locations.
  10. Community focus. One of the great benefits the Millennial generation brings to our churches is their focus on the community in which the church is located. They are not content simply to offer ministries to those who come to the church facilities; they are going into the community to serve the merchants and residents who work and live there.
  11. Cultural discomfort. Many of the issues noted thus far point to growing levels of discomfort for the congregations in the culture they seek to minister and serve. For all of the twentieth century and even the early years of the twenty-first century, it was culturally acceptable, even expected, to be a part of  a local congregation. Those expectations are all but gone. There is a growing and distinct divide between the values of the culture and the Christian values most churches hold.
  12. Organizational distrust. There is a pervasive and growing distrust of institutions in general. Those institutions are found in both government and business, but religious institutions are not exempt from this lack of trust. That diminishing confidence exudes from those both in churches and those who do not attend churches.
  13. Reductions in church staff. I am watching this development carefully. Two different forces are at work. First, in many congregations there is a greater emphasis on laypersons handling roles once led by paid staff.  Second, the tough economic climate and declining church attendance are naturally affecting church budgets. Congregations are reticent to fire staff, but more and more are not filling vacant positions.

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From Nature


[vimeo width="400" height="300"][/vimeo] I've been reading the book Beautiful Outlaw over the last week by John Eldredge. Maybe you've seen some of my tweets. This book is a fabulous read and ranks up there in my library of books that should be read for basic spirituality. Why? Several reasons, but here's one. The book is about the personality of Jesus and his real, tangible relationship with us. Eldredge does an awesome job of helping us to recover a vision of Jesus is that is stripped of religious coverings. It's deconstructive in the best senses of the word.  In an early chapter called, "Is Jesus Really Playful?" John makes something of a profound door opening for me. It's not something I haven't thought about before, but someone it brought me deeper in my thinking not just theologically, but more personally. I've always known that God's qualities can be seen clearly in and through creation - that the Creator is imaged somehow through the things he creates... that his creations "reveal" him. This is clearly written in Paul's letter to the Romans in chapter 1. I've read that a million times, and I've thought about the heart and mind of the artist, and the fact that we are God's poetry (Ephesians). But this is so simple and profound that I've missed it all my life, and am so sad that I have because the richness and beauty of it is overwhelming. Listen how Eldredge puts it:

I was sitting out back yesterday morning sipping coffee, watching the young chipmunks chase one another at breakneck speeds across the deck. One clever daredevil, hoping to get the advantage, jumped up on the fence rail and continued to chase from above, leaping at the last moment upon his littermate like a Hollywood stuntman. This morning one of them adopted a new strategy. The little rascal found an ambush spot, clinging from the side of the house, where he waited for his playmate to wander by unawares; he then pounced, and the two somersaulted off the deck and into the grass, squealing. Only to dash off and do it again. And again. Now - what does this tell us about the personality of Jesus, who created these little dynamos with striped masks and boundless enthusiasm? - John Eldredge, Beautiful Outlaw, p. 19

Throughout the book, John asks simple questions like these about everything from the actions of polar bears, to the soft and sometimes powerful crashing of the waves. What does the gentle whispering of the Aspen, the thundering power of the storm - what do these say about the personality of Jesus? These "qualities" in the created world are qualities that come from our God.

"For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." -Romans 1:20

There is something profoundly personal and engaging in our relationship with God - in our understanding of him, in our experience of his personality that comes blazing through in every detail of the world around us. How have I missed this deep truth all of these years? This is the power that I feel and sense of God's presence when I read Wordsworth - and now I understand why. He is responding to the personality of God in and through the world he encounters - not to mention every other great poet who ever lived. This is so much better than the "contorted interpretations based upon religiously bizarre images [that] only serve to push Christ further off into the ethosphere." (Eldredge, Ibid, p. 24) No wonder I find myself communing with God so deeply while standing waste deep in the cool water of a small stream in northern Michigan. No wonder my heart leaps when I hear the call of the Loon or the soft covering of a much-needed rainfall while the world is sleeping in a summer of drought. No wonder so many people in so many cultures for so many millenium have been drawn astray to earth-sun-or moon worship. No wonder they say to "Stop and smell the roses." It's not just to enjoy nature, it's to hear God speaking through his most prevalent and present art form given freely and generously to all people everywhere in all times.

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To Change the World or Not, that is the question (sort of)


That's not exactly how he phrases it, but James Davison Hunter in his recent book To Change the World: Irony, Tragedy, and The Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World questions the possibility of Christians really changing the world through intention.   It's not nearly that simple, particularly for this brilliant sociologist, but Hunter argues - among other things - that changing the world is a long, complicated process involving cultural elites and centers of power, particularly in politics, that run contrary to the biblical vision given to us by Jesus.  I've been reading this book over the past couple months and have finally brought it to conclusion, although I think I'll read it again.  In a nutshell, Hunter challenges the assumption that aggregated individuals through grassroots efforts can make any lasting or significant change in culture, particularly without wielding the very power of coercion that Christianity rejects. I think Andy Crouch from the Christian Vision Project sums it up well when he says, "The irony is that there is no phrase more beloved to a certain kind of Christian than 'to change the world.' But in Hunter's persuasive account, the strategies those very same Christians have pursued are, by themselves, woefully incapable of changing the world..."  "...the very idea of 'changing the world' is rooted in a quest for dominance that fundamentally misunderstands the Christian gospel and the way of Jesus."

Hunter goes on to critique the Christian Right (conservatives), The Christian Left (liberals or mainliners), and what he calls the "Neo-Anabaptists" made up of folks like Hauerwas, Yoder, Claiborne, and the New Monastics.  In this critique, Hunter betrays his philosophical (or sociological?) postmodernism in agreement with the likes of Foucault, Nietzsche, and others about language, power, and the coercive nature of culture creation.

There are several people who engage Hunter's work, not the least of which are Andy Crouch and Chuck Colsen (see the posts below) who ask some great questions.  What I found interesting was that nowhere (I'm sure it's out there somewhere) have I yet seen someone challenge the philological, linguistic, postmodern philosophical assumptions of Hunter's work.  Don't get me wrong, I actually agree with Hunter on these points about power and cultural transformation, but he doesn't fully tip his hands about the philosophical foundations of those ideas, choosing instead to shroud them more spiritually in the non-coercive, non-violent leadership of Jesus.  I happen to think these two things are very compatible, but haven't seen much work done to connect the two (which I'd love to do if I had the time).  Hunter does his sociological work as a Christian within a postmodern philosophical framework, but only acknowledges his indebtedness to the likes of Foucault at a cursory level hidden in the endnotes (yes, some of us do read them, cf. endnote 1, Chapter 4, Part I) and to Nietzshe with a short explication ofressentiment from Nietzsche and its relationship to Christianity in Chapter 7 of Part II.  Generally I find most Christians merely lambasting postmodern thought and philosophy without a) really understanding some of the seminal thoughts, b) seeing the ability to be a Christian and acknowledge some of these realities, or c) understanding how deeply these ideas affect issues of hermeneutics, missions, and even contextualization.

Don't get me wrong, there are serious problems with postmodern philosophy, postmodernity as a cultural project, unthoughtful "postmodern churches" and edgy "postmodern pastors".  But some of the more serious questions about our embeddedness in cultures of understanding based on would help us think through contextualization in mission, understanding of  power and language might help us avoid our sometimes coercive tendencies (in marketing, preaching, the use of guilt, etc.), and a greater honesty about our presuppositions and framing stories might help us get closer to real conversation with people about basic beliefs without mere condemnation and help our evangelism.  Recently Tim Keller told a group I was a part of that we need a new approach to apologetics, and I think this is part of it.  Hunter, in my opinion, opens the door to some of these conversations in a different (and potentially less volatile) way than Brian McLaren.

So, here are a couple wrap up thoughts on Hunter's book:

  1. This is a wonderful, scholarly work on how cultural change actually functions.
  2. This work requires additional study on these issues by Christians and non-Christians alike.
  3. There is much more work to be done in helping Christians to wrestle with some of these underlying issues of power, language, and culture (which, honestly, postmodern philosophy is mostly about).
  4. This analysis is extremely helpful in understanding many of the drawbacks of the Christian Right, Christian Left, and the Neo-Anabaptist approaches and their rooting (or not) in ressentiment (which, interestingly enough, was the subject of one of my senior seminar papers in 1994 dealing with Neitzsche and the will to power.)

Enough of that for now.  I have more to say, and if I find the time I'll write more.  Here are some helpful articles that give some more information about the book and Crouch and Colsen's responses.

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More in Cizik


I finally watched the video last night between Cizik and Jacques Berlinblau on Faith Complex in the Washington Post.  A couple of follow up comments:

  • It appears that Cizik does view homosexuality as a sin, but is not against political anti-civil unions.  Many people would say that's a clear contradiction, but there is a big question that bears discussion on this and many other issues about the fact that the US is a political democracy founded on political liberalism (different than "liberal").  Since we are not a theocracy, what can be and should be expectedand/ or demanded from the government according to our values is naturally limited by the type of liberal democracy we have.  The big questions are probably these:  What are those limits for Christians?  At what point are we unable to live in such a democracy without strong resistance (and I don't mean violent resistance, cf. 1 Peter 2&3)?  How do we respond faithfully and biblicall to government laws and programs that we cannot agree to, or that may contradict our beliefs?  At what point do we violate political democracy by forcing our own values and beliefs up others, and is it ok for us to do that through political leveraging or rule of the majority, but not for others we may disagree with?  I've not heard enough conversation among Christians on those issues, which would be a great help to clarify where we stand on such important clarifications  (maybe some time would be helpful with William Wilberforce, Deitrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King, Jr., and of course Paul and Peter in their time in Rome and Jesus in Jerusalem).  It's simply more complicated than saying, "We are a Christian nation" or "We were f0unded on Christian principles."  Even if that were true (and it is and it is not, depending what you mean), these questions are still important.
  • Cizik spoke well about environmentalism.  The church in many quarters does seem to be waking up to these realities at a higher level, for which I'm very glad.  There are some great minds in this area within the Christian Church, great voices that need more air time, people like Stephen Bouma-Predegar and Wendell Berry and one of my favorites, Joseph Sittler.
  • Cizik spoke of the Republican Party as the part of denial.  I thought this was interesting.  He was basically saying that if you deny something (that global warming exists, that millions are without healthcare, that poverty is epidemic) then you don't have to do anything about it.  I found this a fascinating idea.

I was actually impressed with Cizik.  Whether you agree with him or not, this is an interesting video.  As I've said a million times, and Berlinblau gets at it at the beginning of the video, the future of evangelicalism, and particularly the leadership of evangelicalism is up in the air.  I'm fascinated and interested in how this will play out in the next 20-50 years of my lifetime and wonder if and how I might be involved in that dialogue and development.

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Cizik, Emerging, and Evangelicalism


I read a blog post tonight in the Washington Post from the Georgetown/ On Faith by Jacques Berlinerblau on "Evangelical America's Future."  I'm actually really interested in the topic of the future of evangelicalism.  Personally, I believe we are going through some major transitions, not only in Evangelicalism, but in Christianity in general.  My friend Doug put me on to Phyllis Tickle's book The Great Emergence this past year, and I really enjoyed her argument [tuncated here] that we're going through a major shift in Christianity out of which will emerge both a changed Christianity and possibly a new breed of Christianity as well.  (As an example, the Prostestant Reformation lead to the birth of Protestantism as well as a forever changed Catholicism - two new things out of one.) I'm interested in who will lead the new evangelicalism, what will happen with the so-called "emerging church" (lots of conversation lately on whether Emergent is dead or alive), how orthodoxy will be restated (it's always restated into new cultural contexts when the culture shifts... and the culture is shifting... truth is still true but may be communicated, understood, or incarnated differently in new and emerging cultural contexts).

Anyway, this article was looking at how Richard Cizik, former head of the National Association of Evangelicals, has been changing his political position (Cizik resigned from the NAE in December after 28 years) from classic conservative and Republican political positions to more liberal positions on a number of issues.  This isn't uncommon these days, what I call the de-Republicanization of evangelicalism.  I have always maintained that being evangelical is neither congruent fully with Republicanism or Democratic platforms.  There are biblical issues on both sides of the spectrum, probably making the more faithful political position of a committed evangelical being somewhere in the independent middle.  In any case, I haven't watched the video of the interview, yet, but I was disappointed in his apparent stance on same-gender civil unions.  Now, to be fair, there are some people I know who are not in favor spiritually or biblically of same-gender sexual union but are ok politically with civil unions, and maybe this is Cizik's position (though I doubt it).  I'm not there, either, and I remain biblically conservative on homosexuality, but I can see their point in a non-Christian liberal democracy.  (I appreciate Stanley Grenz's phrase "Welcoming but not affirming" for the church).   However, I will agree with Cizik that many younger evangelicals (certainly not all, particularly not the young calvinists) tend to be more politically liberal.  This younger evangelical political liberalism tends to be focused around issues of war, poverty, ecology, racial issues, gender equality, nuclear disarmament, etc.  I think it's important to note that there are many younger evangelicals who have a conservative view of marriage as between one man and one woman, are concerned about the protection of the unborn and at the same time are anti-war, concerned about global and local poverty, have a high value for racial reconciliation and gender equality, are eco-concerned, etc.  To continue to act as if there are only two sides for evangelicals to be on politically is to make simplistic political positions that are highly complex.  The two-party system is not only broken from a secular political theory point of view, but is broken from a biblical, evangelical point of view.

Just sayin'.

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Interdependence Day


The Englewood Review of Books is a blog of Englewood Church in Indianapolis.  This church has a rich history and continues to be involved in missional activity in the city.  My wife's family has deep roots in this church, and one of her cousins is involved with the Englewood Review and the publishing house Doulos Christou Books, publisher of Shane Claiborne's Iraq Journal 2003. The recent post, "Interdependence Day" reminds us of our interdependence as human beings with each other and with world in which God has placed us in his good creation.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • Shop only at locally-owned merchants or restaurants.
  • Write a note of appreciation to a mother; thank her for raising a child.
  • Spend the 4th of July baking cookies or bread.  Give your baked goods to the person who delivers your mail or picks up your trash the next time you see them.
  • Spend the day hiking in the woods.  Think about how God cares for the sparrows and lilies of the field.
  • Host a neighborhood yard sale, except require that participants barter things/services for things they want.  Donate any unwanted items at the end of the day to a locally-owned thrift store.
  • Climb a tree and sit there for a long period of time, observing and documenting – in photographs, drawings, paintings, writings, etc. – the forms of life that you see from that vantage point.
  • Sit down and handwrite a letter to an old friend or family member.  Tell them one of your favorite memories of them.
  • Call a meeting in your neighborhood to plan a large-scale fall tree planting throughout your neighborhood.
  • Plan a neighborhood cleanup day – picking up and recycling litter, sweeping sidewalks, etc.
  • Plan a workday in your community garden, or if you don’t have a community garden gather neighbors to brainstorm how you might start one.
  • Host a neighborhood potluck, and encourage neighbors to use local foods in the dishes they contribute.
  • Look for everything you have two of and give one away.
  • Host a neighborhood conversation about the practicalities and details of using alternative forms of energy (solar, wind, etc.).
  • If there are abandoned/foreclosed homes in your neighborhood, gather neighbors to clean up and/or beautify these properties.
  • Track down old teachers and mentors.  Let them know the influence they have played in your life.
  • Visit an elderly neighbor or family member.  Have them tell you the story of their life.
  • Pray the Lord’s Prayer and commit to one concrete action to live out each part.
  • Babysit someone else’s children.
  • Go to a place where people are gathered and offer free hugs to all.

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A Jesus Manifesto


I just finished reading A Magna Carta for Restoring the Supremacy of Jesus Christ aka A Jesus Manifesto for the 21st Century Church by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola.  I enjoyed reading it, and many things resonated with me.  Apart from potentially being a marketing tool to sell more books possibly suggested by the publishers (my cynic is always present), the manifesto essentially highlights the importance of Jesus the Christ over and above anything in his name - be it justice, being missional, good works, laws or any other thing.  It is a reminder that Jesus it the one important thing, not anything else.  True.  I think what stood out for me were a couple of phrases:

Christianity is the "good news" that Beauty, Truth, and Goodness are found in a person.

This connects to what I've always said that truth is relational rather than (or superceding) being objective.  Jesus - as a member of the Trinity - is truth, and truth is personal.

We believe that the major disease of the church today is JDD: Jesus Deficit Disorder.  The person of Jesus is increasingly politically incorrect, and is being replaced by the language of "justice," "the kingdom of God," "values," and "leadership principles."

I agree with this in principle, but also want to make the point that much of the [evangelical] church has for far too long ignored issues of justice and particularly the gospel focus on kingdom.  Some of the strong language in these directions is to recapture the biblical messages of Jesus in a more holistic fashion.  Agreed that Jesus himself is the point, but because he is the point, his kingdom and justice are important.  I'm not as big a defender of "values" and "leadership principles," although I certainly do have both, and the bible speaks to both as well.

The center and circumference of the Christian life is none other than the person of Christ.

Those of you who know my story of conversion to Christ know that Paul's statement in Colossians that "in Christ all things hold together" means a great deal to me both existentially and philosophically.

Christians don't follow a book.  Christians follow a person, and this library of divinely inspired books we call "The Holy Bible" best help us follow that person.

Well said.  Many people never get through the book to Jesus the Christ.

Christians don't follow Christianity; Christians follow Christ.

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Merton for the Soul


Too often too many of us turn a blind eye to social or moral injustice, poverty, or the mere craziness which makes our world turn these days. For so many people, the market insanities of the last year have "forced" us to react - only it may be too little to late. Why didn't we react to this over-consumerism before we got to this place of collective dysfunction?

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Emergent Converts & MegaChurches


(written back in August... but forgot to post) I've found the conversation around mega-churches and emergent churches lately quit fascinating. (cf. Fitch's first post, and his redux post] I've heard many people for awhile saying, "the fruit just isn't there with the Emergent Churches."  By fruit, this usually means converts.  So, when David Fitch went after Mark Driscoll and talked about this issue, I found it quit interesting.  Being someone who is emerging at heart and history (and in some ways theologically, but not others) but also being currently a pastor at a mega-church (where I sometimes fit in, and other times feel like an odd-ball) these conversations are quite intriguing.  I'm particularly interested in numbers 4 and 5 of the 5 points Fitch makes, which I've listed below - this from the Out of UR Blog:

4. Having said all this, I think that the missional communities that do persist probably have a higher conversion rate than the Driscollesque mega churches. Missional churches are much smaller, so 6 conversions from a group of 25 over ten years would match (or exceed) the percentage growth of a typical mega church. I think it would be interesting to measure how many dollars per conversion are spent in missional churches versus mega churches. It makes me smile knowing missional churches are probably more cost effective when it comes to conversions because we resist spending money on buildings, programs, and “the show.”

5. We must recognize that "missionary conversions" take longer than megachurch conversions. The conversion of a post-Christendom "pagan," who has had little to no exposure to the language and story of Christ in Scripture, may require five years of relational immersion before a decision would even make sense. If you do not have this immersion/context, any decision that is made is prone to be little more than a consumerist decision—it is made based on the perceived immediate benefit. It lasts as long as this perceived benefit remains important. It does not lead to discipleship.

So a true missionary conversion, which I believe missional churches are after, takes a much longer period of time than the kind of conversions most often generated through a megachurch. The megachurch is largely appealing to people who grew up in old forms of church and know the Story but quit going to church many years ago. These "unchurched people" require the old messages to be made more relevant. They need to be "revived" or called back into a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. There's nothing wrong with that, but we should recognize there are fewer and fewer of these kinds of people left.

These are some arguments that I myself have made in the past.  Knowing, realistically two things: 1) how inefficient mega-churches really are in reaching the lost per dollar spent and 2) how really unconcerned most members of these churches are to reach anyone.  Emerging churches are still too young to measure long term fruit and effectiveness, but it will be interesting to see the longer term effects of churches that spend less money, focus more on community, tend to care more about "holistic transformation", and are committed to individual people over programs.  The percentages of transformed lives to Jesus Lordship and Kingdom per capita and per dollar (though even talking about it that way seems, somehow, wrong) would be very intriguing to see.  So... someone do the study already.

The other thing I find so intriguing is the issue of "who" these churches reach.  My take is that not only mega-churches, but most contemporary evangelical churches are fairly good at reaching those who are part of Christendom... meaning they've been raised with Jesus and the church, and they have been educated in Christianity.  They may be "de-churched" because they were one-time churched, but maybe they never took the step to enter the Kingdom and submit to the Lordship of Jesus.  Those people do need to be reached.  But what I think is being argued in some of what Fitch is saying is that those who are part of the emerging postmodern, post-Christendom culture have very little or no knowledge of Christian theology or of Jesus other than what they learned on the Simpsons, King of the Hill, or in political campaigns.  These folks are a slower burn because they have so much knowledge to gain before they have a clue what they are saying "yes" to.  I've heard Alan Hirsch talking about this at a church planting portion of the RCA's OneThing conference in San Antonio when he said that the "forms" of church we are using today are reaching a certain group of people, but that the culture shifts of post-christendom require new forms of church plants to reach new people who will likely never be reached by our current forms.

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