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1950's Church Models vs. Today's Culture

Jeff Harris, a friend of mine and a former PC(USA) pastor who has started a new church in Butler, PA  called Crossroad Community, did a very good summary of the problems with post-World War II churches trying to do outreach with 1950's methods in today's culture.  There has been such a dramatic cultural shift in the United States that the culture no longer assumes or respects a Christian worldview. And also, the things that the current generation values are significantly different than the values produced by a corporate business model  that was characteristic of the 1950's and 60's.  

This table below is a summary of the different values and shows the need to adjust our methodology of outreach and evangelism in order to reach the current generation. Those churches that rely upon the old models will be frustrated if not left behind. The methodology that worked in the 1940's and 50's will never work today. 

Old Church Model

Core Values
1950-1960 Era

New Church Model

Core Values
2010-2020 Era

  1. Faith  
  2. Fellowship  
  3. Family
  1. Biblical Instruction (Faith)
  2. Prayer (Faith)
  3. Relational (Fellowship/Family)
  4. Caring Ministry (Family)
  5. Transformation (evangelism, spiritual formation)
Old Cultural Setting New Cultural Setting

External Culture

  1. External culture (society) supported Christian principles.
  2. “Build it and they will come.”
  3. Church affiliation was socially acceptable.
  4. Denominationally driven; hierarchical.
  5. Centralized forms of governance. 

 

 

External Culture

  1. External culture (society) is anti-Christian and  apostate; apathetic, desires censure of Christians and persecution.
  2. “Why should I go?”  It’s not necessary to go.
  3. It is socially acceptable NOT to be affiliated with a church.  Generally, people are frustrated by religion or “religious” semantics.
  4. No longer relevant to individual / communal needs.
  5. Post-denominational era. A call for decentralized forms of governance.

 

Economic Indicators

  1. Rising household income.
  2. Mass production & labor intensive.
  3. Collective sense of peace, security and prosperity.

 

Economic Indicators

  1. Rising unemployment, layoffs and debts.
  2. Consumer driven economy; increased imports.
  3. Government takeover and seizures.
  4. Collective sense of being physically & emotionally unhealthy, in insecurity and poverty.

 

 

Modern Worldview (Christendom)

  1. Science & Reason
  2. Logic & Rational
  3. Absolute truth exists; must be obeyed.
  4. Follow a prescribed manner or pattern; there is only one “absolute” manner/way it can be achieve; A high value placed on rules and these prescribed manners; defiance from the norm is socially prohibited.

 

Postmodern Worldview (Post-Christendom)

  1. Relativism; truth is based on the individual.
  2. High value placed on community / relationships.
  3. Materialistic & Individual freedom with no boundaries or personal responsibility.
  4. Reality is based on experience; experimental demonstration.

 

 

Technology

  1. Transistor radios & commercial televisions were introduced in 1939.
  2. Telegraphs & Rotary telephones.
  3. Jukeboxes, record players & 8-track tapes.
  4. Cassette tapes. 

 

 

Technology

  1. Computers, scanners & USB-port.
  2. High-Def, Plasma screens, Blue-Ray, Cable & Satellite-televisions, 3-D movies, Pay-per-view, PVR, TiVo, DVD & Web-Cams.
  3. Smart-Phones, text-message, Instant Message, E-Mail, MP3 Players, IPods & Droids.
  4. Internet, chat-rooms, Web-communities: (i.e. MySpace, Facebook, Twitter & Plaxo) 

 

Ministry Goals

  1. Increase membership
  2. Increase Sunday school classes.

Ministry Goals

  1. Must be relational to approach and entry point.
  2. Primary focus must be placed on discipleship. Must be decentralized & address a increasing level of biblical and spiritual immaturity; a generation unfamiliar and/or inexperienced with worship or biblical standards. 
  3. Must serve in an environment of persecution and government intervention/oppression to Christian faith.

 

Approach/Model

  1. Sunday-School is model for education.
  2. Congregations establish programs.

 

Approach/Model

  1. Missional
  2. Cell groups (a home-church mindset) Each cell group will focus on all 5-core values.

 

Entry Point to the Gospel

  1. The unchurched or non-believers were invited to church and children invited to Sunday school class (catechism).
  2. The unchurched or non-believers were invited to various programs to entice participation. 

 

Entry Point to the Gospel

  1. The cell group.
  2. Visitors to worship will no longer encouraged  to become members immediately; instead, they are encouraged to become an active participant in a cell group.

 

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Viewing Contemporary Culture Through the Eyes of Christ.

Providing a critique of pop culture, analyzing secular trends, the media, and Western worldviews.

The Scholar's Corner exists to challenge the Church to higher righteousness and to engage contemporary culture with the claims of Christ.


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