City on a hill

I’ve written about this before, the 40-minute video that I’ve watched over and over. I show it to new church officers every year. The speaker is Dr. Rodger Nishioka, a nationally known Presbyterian pastor and teacher. Rodger is speaking about the “21st Century Reformation.” The theory is that about every 500 years, God holds a “rummage sale,” throwing out things in the church that are outdated and making room for the new. He says a reformation is going on now, and it’s terrifying to lifelong Christians. But in the end, the church emerges stronger and more faithful. Every time I watch I discover something challenging, new, or encouraging that I hadn’t noticed before.

One major trend is that young adults are leaving the church by the millions. Even young adults who were baptized and grew up Presbyterian aren’t in any church anymore. 

He tells of being with a group of young adults in Arlington, Texas, and asked them about mission. A young woman said, “The problem with ‘you people’ (church people) is that you seem to have no effect on the place in which God has planted you.”  Rodger said, “For her, an assessment of authenticity was what effect do you have on the neighborhood in which God has planted you.”

The young woman said, “We’ve got this church across the street from my condo complex. If the church disappeared, we’d open up our blinds and say ‘Cool, more parking.’ Nobody in our neighborhood would say, ‘Oh no, what happened to that church? How will we be a neighborhood without that church?’ They have no impact on us whatsoever. They drive in on Sundays and do their stuff and then they drive back out. Wouldn’t it be nice if they actually made a difference in the neighborhood?”

Jesus called us to be a “city on a hill.”

By “city,” Jesus meant the church, and by “hill,” he meant neighborhood. Jesus gave us the church to be a light to the neighborhood. Before mission can be global, it first must be local.

Every church must ask itself, “Do the young adults around us judge us to be authentic? Are we making the impact on the neighborhood we should?

Would we be missed if we disappeared?

Google “Rodger Nishioka – 21st Century Reformation.”

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