Call me crazy but I am certain that when Christ was dying on the cross He was not thinking, “Now my followers will be able to go to church on Sundays until I return.” I believe His vision was one of a people radically transformed by His love and, in response to His love, loving others in the same way He did. I say this because this is exactly what He taught.
The Church Jesus envisioned was one transforming every aspect of culture, one person at a time. By “the Church” I mean His people (not a building or even a gathering) but His followers scattered across every aspect of culture. Christ alone will transform our culture and He will do it through His followers. How does this happen?
When we speak of culture we are talking about multiple domains among a people. In America it might be shown like this graphic on the left (there are clearly other ways to break down the different domains but these are the main divisions). Often we think that the Church (or even our faith) is one domain among many and if we could just get people IN church we will impact our culture for Christ. Increasingly, however, people are not going to church and therefore many conclude that our impact in culture is waning. However, when we explore the early Church we see that “success” was never measured by how many were “coming to church”. Their measure of “success” was simply dying to self, living for Jesus, and loving Him so passionately others were blessed. I believe that God is bringing about an awakening among His people and I see a reformation of global proportions taking place. This reformation is not about something “new” but about something very old. It is a rediscovery of the Church, not simply gathered, but scattered. Gathering is critical to the life and health of Christ’s followers but it is the church scattered that transforms a culture.
A better depiction of the Church is one scattered across the many domains of culture. As Christ’s followers recognize themselves as a sent people, sharing His love with others (by serving and sharing the Gospel), we will see the culture revolutionized by His love. When a culture is transformed it means that people across every domain are encountering Christ and His bigger Story. His bigger Story (the Gospel) is bringing restoration and redemption to all people and to every aspect of culture. Business people realize that they are being called into God’s bigger and better Story- blessing others through ethical business, providing income for families to have what they need, and offering necessary goods and services. They’re actually partnering with God and His greater kingdom agenda in Christ. Parents realize that their role is to raise children to love God so passionately that others are blessed. Politicians and government workers rise up to serve their God-given role to protect, bring justice, and bless the people by serving them. Educators join the great calling to teach and train up children as global citizens and servants of God. Those in media and entertainment seek to recapture the arts to the glory of God, expressing truth and beauty in all that they do. This is the church scattered. And like all previous reformations this one will come from the bottom up as God’s people decide to trust Him enough to live out the words of Jesus:
“Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:26-28