What is ‘post-Christendom’? It is the world today. It is connecting with people beyond the institutional church. For example, our experience in a virtual world connects with our experience in a tangible world. If I post on Facebook and then see some people from my post (or who commented on my post) in real life, the connection is real, tangible; it is existential. Christendom is the society of Christians. Since there is an increasingly large and growing body of people who claim “none” for their religious affiliation, the day will arrive when Christians are no longer a majority religion.
This is not bad. In Acts, followers of The Way were not a majority or even a sizable minority. Thus, the meaning of the Christian faith has an increasingly higher value in our spiritual lives. What we do matters. Theology matters. In a post-Christendom world, connecting our faith and works with social activism and missional living is incredibly important.
Many churches try to hold on to Christendom, and it makes sense. They enjoyed the power it gave them. However, the harder people try to cling to power and control, the further they will get from the gospel. Although there is a judgmental tone to my assessment, it seems remarkably close to the biblical Pharisees. Using power and Christendom in sharing the Christian faith is not helpful because the people who have no religious affiliation find it unattractive and uninspiring.
Instead of placing church at the center of society, let us place Christ at the center. Keep every member of the religious community involved in ministry. Ruthlessly seek out people’s gifts and allow them the space to use their gifts. Do not push anyone to the margins, regardless of their intellectual capacity, age, physical ability, gender, economic prosperity or poverty, or sexual orientation. Jesus excludes no one.
As Christians in the twenty-first century, we have a choice: (a) we can seek greater Christendom and pine for the good ole days, or (be) we can be the people God calls us to be. Yes, it is post-Christendom, but was Christendom really that good?
As for me, I choose the ontological faith: I want to be the person God calls me to be, no matter where it takes me.