What is Post-Christendom?

A friend of mine in California is leading an adult education class on post-Christendom and asked me to put together some introductory videos for her class. The first class was yesterday and here is the video. This project is a helpful challenge as I continue to work on articulating what post-Christendom is and why we should care.

 

I’m pleased that the video and my friend’s teaching generated some good questions from the class. I’ll be thinking about these as we move forward.

  • Are we concerned about preserving the “church” or preserving Christianity and the teachings of Jesus? (This relates to how Christianity changed when it became the dominant cultural force.)
  • How can we remake our image? Why can’t we freely share the source of our faith? (This is about the “country club” Christian milieu that is very much a part of our past.)
  • Do you think it can be a good thing for Christianity to be less dominant in culture? Good for our personal faith?
  • What does it mean to be a “church”? Does it always mean what we know now?

Comments

  1. In general, a great introduction to the idea.

    Two of your statements bit at me in ways that didn’t feel good (that doesn’t mean they’re incorrect: it’s an emotional reaction).

    You described your family’s experience on a Sunday morning off. You slept in. You enjoyed brunch. You went to the park and encountered lots of other families enjoying their time together. Then you commented, “Sunday morning used to be sacred time in America. But it no longer is.”

    I would argue that, in at least some ways, downtime spent together as a family: relaxing in the park and enjoying each other’s presence is sacred and, in some cases, more important than adding another item to those family’s lists. Indeed, I would argue that in many cases, it is sacred time. The word sacred means, “set apart for the worship and service of God.” In a world where over-committed busy-ness is the norm, sabbath rest with one’s family can be very sacred. Insisting that having one’s butt in a pew is required to participate in the sacred seems to miss the point entirely.

    Later, you say that “Conservative Christians realize that traditional Christianity is losing influence, so they attempt to regain power and control through political means.”

    The “Conservative…” qualifier on that sentence seems to imply that liberal Christians don’t do the same thing, or that they don’t miss having the influence. That is far from my experience, and seems to excuse us progressives from the same participation in a culture that idolizes cultural influence.

  2. Great points, Jared. Thanks for the feedback.

    Regarding the “sacred time” issue, I agree with you. I was mostly talking about the proliferation of other organized activities—like one more soccer game after three others earlier in the week—but your point is well taken. In fact, I blogged about this very thing after that Sunday morning off: http://johnvest.com/2013/05/30/from-bbq-church-to-playground-church-and-beyond/. And a friend of mine actually did “playground church” a couple of times over the summer. I even got her to write about it but fell behind in posting it. I should get it up here.

    Regarding the culture war piece, I think I agree with you, though I’m not sure that progressives are engaged in this in quite the same way as conservatives. Maybe you could say more about what this looks like on the progressive side.

  3. nicely done john. thank you so very much. i have been reading quite a bit on post-christendom, thanks to our anabaptist sisters and brothers. have you encountered the anabaptist communities and movements who are riding this wave?

    i serve as director of youth and young adult ministries at an episcopal church in boulder colorado, and on the post-christendom continuum i would say that my town is already well established on the “post” side of things. not only is christianity no longer an assumed norm, it is actually greeted with a certain amount of animosity and antipathy. most days i feel like i work for a marketing agency and not a church, such is the state of things. i actually have parents come up to me on the sly and give me pointers on how to “sell” my program to their own kids more effectively.damn shame.

    anyways, thanks for all you are and do.

Trackbacks

  1. […] A friend of mine in California is leading an adult education class on post-Christendom and asked me to put together some introductory videos for her class. Here is the second video. (Check out the first one here.) […]

  2. […] are all symptoms of the growing post-Christendom realities I have been talking about for the past several years. This is precisely why we need new approaches […]

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