Monday, May 7, 2012

America: A Post-Christian Nation

Chris and I were privileged to attend parts of ACQUIRE THE FIRE Christian youth conference in Denver this past weekend as I posted here.

Because Chris is an Honor Academy alumna, we had the chance to talk to other Honor Academy alumni and talk to the main speaker and founder of the event, Ron Luce, behind the scenes.

Ron Luce addressed the youth several times throughout the conference and he is a very dynamic speaker, but I've got to say, my most inspirational moments of the weekend came in a 10 minute casual group conversation with Mr. Luce and the Honor Academy alumni.

Mr. Luce began talking about a decrease in the amount of long-term missionaries from America to other countries.  If I'm remembering the numbers correctly, there has been close to a 30% decrease in the number of long-term missionaries sent from the United States in the past ten years.  By contrast, there has been a big increase in the number of long-term missionaries going forth from South Korea and Brazil... and according to Mr. Luce, both of these countries have had great economic growth in the past ten years while America has suffered economically in the past ten years.

Mr. Luce said there has been an increase in the number of short-term missionaries going abroad from the United States -- almost like taking a month-long missions trip is on peoples' Bucket List.  But when there are less long-term missionaries learning the language, the culture, the customs and building long-term relationships with the people, short-term mission trips are much less effective.

I then asked Mr. Luce what his opinion was of domestic mission work in this traditionally Christian nation.  Mr. Luce's immediate response was that, "We are past being a Christian nation."  He went on to explain that America has entered a "Post-Christian" era and, as Soldiers of God, we cannot think of America as a Christian nation.

We stressed the extreme importance of domestic missionaries because America can no longer be held to the standards and expectations of a Christian nation.  America has become a post-Christian nation, and missionaries here need to treat their fellow Americans just as they would a group in Asia who had never heard the gospel.

Mr. Luce said that when church leaders and evangelists minister to a Christian nation, there is a shared sense of values and expectations, so the ministry sometimes becomes about hammering home a message.  Meanwhile, when missionaries go to a foreign land where they know very few have heard the message of the Bible, the ministry becomes about serving and loving the people where they are and sharing the message of the Gospel as they build relationships with people.

What a change of perspective this was for me about America.

After growing up expecting that my neighbor, my colleague, my friends have heard the Gospel... suddenly to think that I live in a society that does not know the Gospel.  My ministry is not to hammer home a message but to love and serve in a foreign land because I do not live in a Christian nation.

What do you think about this idea?
Does it change your perspective at all?

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