Monday, December 17

The mission field at home

I was reading on the train on my way to work this morning, and came across some interesting information from the book Lost in America by Tom Clegg and Warren Bird. While Christians, particularly evangelicals, like to think of the United States as a "Christian nation," this is becoming less true, and probably is no longer a true statement. According to Clegg and Bird, the unchurched population of the United States is now the largest mission field in the English-speaking world, and is the fifth largest mission field in the entire world. Let that sink in for a minute. Only four countries in the world have more unchurched people than the United States.

This seems to go along with the conclusions of the new book unChristian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. unChristian looks at the opinions of Americans between 16-29 years old regarding Christians and the Church. While I haven't had the chance to read the book, I've seen some of the conclusions, and they don't look pretty. I can't wait until I have the chance to read the whole thing.

I'm not sure that this really is bad news. I think that many Christians and churches have allowed themselves to think that a missionary is someone else who does things far away in the name of Christ. When we allow ourselves to think that way, we don't have to think so much about how we live our lives and whether we are living in a way that draws people to Jesus. On the other hand, if we really come to grips with the fact that our neighbors aren't Christ followers, it changes everything. It means that we are missionaries to our neighborhood and our school or workplace and our hangouts. It means that we should be concerned with whether, when people look at the way we live our lives, if they are seeing Jesus in action. And I think that's a good think.

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