Is there a church for Tiffany?

Tiffany has led a sinful, broken life.  She is intimidated by “church” but searching for God.  “I’m not good enough to be a Christian,” she thinks.  “How can Christians accept broken me?  Can God love ME?”  The church wants to love and accept her but has forgotten how to speak the Good News of the Kingdom (Mark 1:14-15), minister at the heart of her brokenness, and guide her to become a disciple of Jesus. 

Tiffany typifies many in the postmodern, post-Constantinian, and increasingly post-Christian contexts of North America, where the church has been marginalized and no longer sets the dominant values of culture.  In this environment church attendance in the USA is projected to decline from 16.2 per cent in 2010 to 14.4 per cent in 2020 to 10.5 per cent in 2050 (Olson 2008; Kinnaman and Lyons 2007). 

In these contexts God calls us to imagine a renewed Christian Way, shaped by a biblical theology which authentically re-engages contemporary culture.  This divine imagination enables us to see “things as God sees them, to catch a dream as big as God is.”  Such imagination helps us to jump out of “what is” into “what He desires us to be,” to envision alternative worlds (Harris 2004).  Dr. Martin Luther King, for example, was able to imagine a world of social justice, a nation where white and black live in equality.  His “I have a dream” speech cast a vision for such racial equality. 

Divine imagination has led Mission Alive to ask:  “How is Christian life enfleshed when communities live, not for their own sake, but for God in his mission?  How do these communities touch the many Tiffanys of our world? 

by Gailyn Van Rheenen

Works Cited

Harris, Randy.  Imagination. Speech at Mission Alive’s Church Planters’ Retreat, June 11, 2004.

Kinnaman, David and Gabe Lyons.  2007.  Unchristian:  What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity . . . and Why It Matters.  Grand Rapids, MI:  BakerBooks. 

Olson, David T.  2008.  The American Church in Crisis.  Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan.

9 thoughts on “Is there a church for Tiffany?

  1. Gailyn, Thanks for this challenging article. It pushes us to consider what it truly means for the community of God’s people to be hospitable. How do we welcome and make feel welcome those whom God is desperately seeking?

  2. The church who “wants to love and accept her but has forgotten how to speak the Good News of the Kingdom” must both go into Tiffany’s world and be truly welcoming to her when she comes into the church’s world. I’ve been in a position to visit several churches lately, and I’ve tried to imagine how someone without a churched background would experience our assemblies–insiders singing beautiful harmonies, efficiently partaking of communion, opening their Bibles to book,chapter, and verse — would they feel they could ever be a part of that? And, if they were, would they still be connected to their current set of friends?

  3. The issues you raise here are important. In his recently published book, Honestly, Johnnie Moore talks about the importance of this imagination for a renewed way you suggest in your article. Moore’s stance is “what if we really lived what we say we believe?” If you’re interested, here’s a link: http://dld.bz/ansdr

  4. Thanks Gailyn for articulating the question of our generation.

    I am excited to imagine what the Kingdom will look like when it get’s enfleshed in Tiffany’s world. How will it be different when the community of God’s people (i.e. the church) is made up of people who don’t know the Bible or who don’t meet together on Sunday mornings? I don’t know. How will the gospel move from one person to another in her world? I don’t know that either.

    However, I am confident that the Kingdom has survived such radical changes in the past. Acts chapter 15 comes to mind. It seems as if the Holy Spirit has carefully guided people for centuries to embody the Kingdom in their time and place, however different their time and place was from the past. I find that to be a relief, that we can trust the Spirit to oversee how the Kingdom takes root in Tiffany’s life.

    “Will there be a church for Tiffany?” Yes…and I am excited to see what it will look like!

  5. Our congregation has been ignoring the Tiffanies around us for several years, and we are in decline–not just in numbers. Do you mind if I recycle this post as a outline for next Sunday’s sermon?

  6. Pingback: Kingdom Communities on Mission with God | Missional Church Planting

  7. Tiffany is going to be far more impressed with the “Early Acts” church (day to day interaction, selling goods to sustain one another’s needs,teaching in natural open, public settings) then the one day / Sunday cathedral attendance we wrap around churchianity. Equip folks to use scripture to interact with their neighbors. Find ways [I LIKE CLOUD-BASED COLLABORATIVE SOFTWARE] to help folks benefit from the lessons learned and best practices of those who’ve gone thru similar struggles previously. Not rocket science, its what Avon, Herbal Life, Shaklee, etc., have been doing for sometime now…

  8. Pingback: A Church Planter’s Response « Kingdom Clues

  9. Tiffany will be greatly blessed when the messages, “I have come not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” and “It is by grace that you are saved.” touches her heart in powerful, soul changing, ways by the Spirit of revelation in Jesus Christ.

    I have always said it and still do. A human soul needs Christ first, and then a mature and blessed body of believers second.

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