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?
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.