What is the individual’s role in the Mission of God?

"We have to learn how to relate to our culture as an exiled church full of pilgrims."

By Ed Stetzer - Outreach Magazine

In the West, churches that take biblical authority seriously are entering a new season. The transition of nominals to nones will, in the long term, cause the biblically faithful to be marginalized from society.

With that being the case, I think ultimately we are going to have to teach people to live as exiles. I believe the exile will be more of a motif people use to describe the church in its current situation here in the West.

Look at how we have progressed to this current state. A hundred years ago, the church was the chaplain to the culture. It functioned as the moral guardian. However, that role eventually waned. The church became viewed as the disapproving parent of the culture. Eventually, nobody cared any more if the church approved


or disapproved. Now, the church is left standing as an exile within the culture.

The Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life reported in 2011 that 66 percent of evangelical Protestant leaders who live in the Global North (primarily Western countries such as the U.S.) say their influence in culture is waning. In the U.S., Protestant leaders are especially pessimistic. Eighty-two percent say that their influence in their communities is declining.

In his book The Church in Exile: Living in Hope after Christendom, Lee Beach gives this example:

Even in the United States, where Christian faith continues to play a more prominent role in national affairs, one can easily find anecdotal evidence of how Christianity is slowly moving from the center of culture to a more peripheral role in many parts of national life. An example of this is in the US’s own 9/11 memorials. Three days after the horrible events of September 11, 2001, a memorial service held in Washington offered a distinctly Christian perspective, including Rev. Billy Graham as guest preacher. However, another memorial service was held shortly thereafter at Yankee Stadium in New York City, and this service was hosted by Oprah Winfrey and included a variety of religious traditions. This was a signal of the shifting religious landscape of America, telling those present and those watching around the country that Christianity, while still a part of American life, no longer held the exclusive place that it once did in times when the nation came together and looked to religion for answers.”

We have to learn how to relate to our culture as an exiled church full of pilgrims. The problem is that a significant number of churches have either forgotten or ignored the mission of God, or the missio Dei.

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