Jeff Christopherson is the Co-Founder and Missiologist for Send Institute and the Executive Director of Church Planting Canada. His baby, The Send Institute is a partnership between the SBC’s North American Mission Board and the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, which has been instrumental in training up SBC pastors and missionaries on the way to plant churches and evangelize the lost.
From February 2021, he offers ten characteristics future church planters should prioritize and adopt in order to “engage a fast-changing and increasingly post-Christian North American.” Part of number 7 and 8, enumerated below, are especially troubling.
See when church planters model their ministries after a successful pastor or a successful church of the past, they perpetuate the biases towards Christendom. Messaging that has been tuned for the pleasure of evangelicals ears is not messaging that actually relates to where people live within secularity, and secularity has leveled the playing field.
It is no longer a binary choice. People are no longer saying, you know, ‘Christian or not Christian’, ‘go to church or not go to church’, there are all kinds of different opportunities or options for them.
And all of the different ‘isms’, including secularism has leveled the playing field for a different apologetic, the apologetic what we’re in now; not ‘what is truth’, but ‘what truth works’.
And so you have an opportunity as a church planter, to begin to show the superiority, as like Elijah calling down fire, You have the opportunity to show secularity the truthful nature of the Church of Jesus Christ.
We need to have a different fidelity, a different faithfulness- from doctrinal precision to spiritual authority. See, the Bible teaches us that the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power. And for a while, there’s been a lot of us that have been sort of ‘all in’ on orthodoxy, and somehow missing the other side of what true Orthodoxy is- that belief is never anything we own. It’s something that we do.
We don’t own beliefs. We can’t say beliefs, we live beliefs. And the world has heard our ‘talk’ for a long time. And our talk without the orthopraxy has done nothing to convince them of the truth of our message. And until somehow they see the spiritual authority of our words, they will not be, and that’s seen in the Gospel transformation of our lives and our spiritual communities and how we relate.
We won’t see that and so we need a different fidelity, moving from just talk of doctrinal precision, to the spiritual authority that backs it up.
We miss the good old days of ‘what is true for you, is not true for me’ and ‘we all have our own truths.’ For years we were told that relativism was the greatest threat facing the church, but that turned out not to be true at all. Rather than ‘You have your truth, I have mine’ the trend that has dominated the culture from pagan secularists, aided by the media and the LGBTQ lobby, is that ‘There is only one truth. Our truth. You may not simply tolerate it, but rather must openly and actively celebrate it. If you don’t, we will crush you and destroy your life.’
His talk about “what truth works” and repeated castigation of ‘doctrinal precision’ is particularly troubling. Secularity is not a new thing and has always existed in some form or another. For Christopherson, because he is starting with the wrong premise and wrong epistemological foundation, you can be sure he’s going to come up with the wrong solution.
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