Mark Sayers on His New Book ‘Reappearing Church: The Hope for Renewal in the Rise of Our Post-Christian Culture’

Image: Pixabay/Moody Publishers

Ed Stetzer: Today I am glad to welcome Mark Sayers to The Exchange. Mark is the senior leader of Red Church in Melbourne, Australia, and the co-host of the podcast, This Cultural Moment.Here we talk about his new book, Reappearing Church: The Hope for Renewal in the Rise of Our Post-Christian Culture.


Ed: Why do you think the church needs the message of this book right now?

Mark: In every age, the church needs renewing. There is a process of renewal and decline which we can see at play throughout history. It begins as God in his grace moves. Those open to his leading and humble enough to follow, respond.

The move of God becomes a movement.

However, over time, abiding is replaced by striving, we try and keep the movement going, turning it into a machine which runs on human power rather than divine favor. Eventually the machine becomes ineffective, existing as a rusting monument to a past move.

This pattern of renewal and decline occurs at a new pace in our day. Our globalized, technologically-boosted world has not just compressed space, but also time. News cycles that once ran over a week now last 24 hours—information speeds across the world in millisecond.

This dynamic means that the slow cycle of spiritual renewal, maintenance, and decline, which in the past played out over generations, now occurs at hyper speed.

The tools of our time enable us to reach across both distances and difficulties. Yet the sword cuts both ways, enabling us to boost the mythology of our own human power, offering us the ability to expand our platform, reach, and influence beyond God given boundaries.

Those used by God in the past were far more aware of their inadequacies; their limitations were in clearer view, and thus the raw material of renewal – humility – was more easily discovered and mined by God.

Yet humility and a realization of our hopelessness without God is a scarcer resource today. This means today that not only can the rot set in quicker, but in our age of the image, it can be missed because we can apply a sun-drenched filer over our failings.

Ed: What are the gifts and blessings that lay hidden in our post-Christian culture?

Mark: The great challenge to Christianity in the West is secularism. Yet it is easy to forget that the ideology of secularism, and the possibility of a life without God and deeper meaning can only exist as a lived reality when buttressed by a set of political, social and economic securities being in place—securities which are currently weakening.

After the Berlin wall fell, the West, and in particular the English-speaking West, became possessed by a kind of euphoria, in which the opinion of the day believed that we were irreversibly gliding towards an inevitable pleasant utopia of freedom.

The polarization of politics can hide the way in which both the left and right bought into this myth; for while each side of politics prescribed their own route to the top of the mountain, the summit for both was a society of radical individuals shorn of limitations.

For a period, this myth could be maintained. The connectivity and potential of the internet, the promises of globalization, the cornucopia of goodies offered by consumer society could distract us from the fact that the emperor had forgotten to pack his trousers. Yet, eventually the myth began to suffer its inevitable mugging.

A series of shocks, the war on terror, the global financial crisis, environmental challenges, rising inequality, the persistence of discrimination, all illustrated that history wasn’t over.

The connectivity of globalization and the internet brought us closer, but it also brought more chaos and more conflict. The freedom that was promised now came like a flood, paralyzing us with endless choice.

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Source: Christianity Today