Friday, October 14, 2005



1. I use the word “pragmatic” because they’re really shaped by the business model, the market model, the advertising model. Just as all the market and business and advertising began to emerge in the late ’70s and ’80s — and that’s observable to anybody who looks at magazines and television and notes how consumerism began to develop. It seems to me that they’ve created a consumerist church. The product is Jesus and the good life. It’s therapeutic Christianity. And they’re out to sell that. So they’ve asked themselves the question: “What’s the best way to sell Jesus and get people into the life of the church?”

2. In jest, I call them the Wal-Mart churches. There’s something for everyone. You walk in that door and no matter who you are, they’ve got something for you. I’m not saying that’s entirely wrong. I’m saying that’s a reflection of the culture, and the result of the Christianity they’ve promoted — and this is my judgment — is that Christianity accommodated itself so much to the culture, it has come to look like the culture. Christianity has been catechized by the culture as opposed to Christianity catechizing the culture itself.

3. The Constantinian model is more oriented to the Traditional church. But then what I see is that this Pragmatic model is caught between the Constantinian model and the performance model. It still seems to be the tail end of the Constantinian model, although the Traditional church is probably more rooted in the church serving the cultural, serving the nation, a much more civil religion would be found in the Traditional church, although there’s plenty of it in the Pragmatic church as well.

This is where the Younger evangelicals are breaking with the past. They do not see the church as an accommodation to the culture. They don’t see it in terms of a civil religion. They see the church in a very countercultural way.


Craig Moore said...

I agree with Webber that the present day church is the Wal Mart/consumerism church. I have fought against that model and the pressures to conform to it for years. I know many churches where people take a couple hours out for God each week and fill the pews, but there is not much spiritual quality in the pews and no passion for God. This part of "doing church" will be a welcomed change.

Zoomdaddy said...

problem is, the whole "counterculture" idea is a product of our particular culture. in what way is it really different than pragmatic christianity, just for a different generation? in fact, its nature as appealing to a particular generation is buying into the cultural model of generational segregation. something that is truly prophetic in our culture would not simply be "countercultural," it would be wholly other. a cross-generational, non-business approach is just the starting point.

Eric Lee said...

This reminds me of something my pastor put in our latest Bible study outline as we reflected on Acts 8:9-25 this week:

In a recent issue of "Grow: A Journal for the development of missional leaders and missional churches," an editorial exhorts pastors to develop worship 'venues'. A new type of church is emerging: 'affinity church', "organized to reach niche groups of unchurched peole who are most comfortable in their own particular lifestyles. There are affinity churches for golfers who want to worship together before heading out to the course. Close to where I live, a church advertises a worship service for bluegrass enthusiasts. Several hundred bikers attend a Saturday evening service at the Grove City Church of the Nazarene" ("The Front Line", Summer 2005).

I'm from San Diego, but I actually just visited the Grove City Church of the Nazarene at the beginning of September. That was a trip!

Eric Lee said...

Oh, Grove City is in Ohio.

Thunder Jones said...

Counter-cultural? Like a permed mullet?

Zoomdaddy said...

the whole "affinity church" concept may just be a heresy. it is a slap in the face of koinonia, of a new people called from every race, language, hobby, socio-economic class, and generational division human beings can come up with.