The declining Western church – a church in exile

The history of God’s people is a history of life cycles, a history of clarity about call and identity, followed by complacence, followed by collusion with the powers, followed by catastrophic loss. Contrary to being a disaster, the exilic experiences of loss and marginalization are what are needed to restore the church to its evangelistic place. On the margins of society, the church will once again find its God-given voice to speak to the dominant culture in subversive ways, resisting the powers and principalities, standing against the seduction of the status quo. The church will once again become a prophetic, evangelistic, alternative community, offering to the world a model of life that is radically “other,” life-giving,‚ loving, healing, liberating. This kind of community is not possible for the church of Christendom. Christendom opposed prophetic community with its upside-down power and its exposure of golden calves.

Elaine A. Heath,‚ Mystic Way of Evangelism, The: A Contemplative Vision for Christian Outreach, 26-27.

What do you think of Heath’s assessment?

David has been a systems thinker most of his life. He has started three businesses as well as designed and developed systems and processes in existing organizations. He has a Doctorate in Leadership and has also done additional post-graduate work in communications.

He has also pastored 3 churches and loves to think about, write about and podcast about scripture, theology, and leadership.

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  • Does she back up this schema with an overview of Christian history? While she is certainly given a hopeful interpretation to things, the “the exilic experiences of loss and marginalization” are now & are going to be very painful for many of our denominations. The United Methodist Church (in which I used to serve) is having panic attacks — the most recent one called the Call to Action — about declining money and people. The future is frightening and the crisis is/will be painful for everyone in denominations like this. I’d like to believe (as Heath does) that this is a necessary and hope-full purging — but that all remains to be seen. Doesn’t it?


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