Tuesday, October 17, 2006

What happened in New England?

Mandy, Adam and I spent the last few days in New England. In the next couple of days I'll be posting pictures on my other blog.

We spent a lot of time on the road, and passed through some really beautiful places. In just about every town we came through there was a church at the center. Most of these were congregational churches. I was fascinated with these churches. It struck me that today we think of New England in many ways as a mission field, yet this was the site of the greatest revival that this nation has ever seen. It caused me to wonder what happened.

Ed Stetzer says that the church must contend for the Gospel as well as contextualize the Gospel. The first part of this, Contend, is found in Jude 3 (I urge you to contend for the faith that was once entrusted to the saints). The second part, Contextualize, is found in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some).

Using Stetzer's logic, it seems to me that one of the main reasons the church in New England is in the state it's in is that they failed to contend for the Gospel. Since I've returned I've been reading a little on the Great Awakening and the history of the churches in New England. It's pretty obvious that many of the churches shortly after the Great Awakening went in some bad, theologically speaking, directions. Many evangelical churches, and especially my denomination, fight very hard to contend for the faith. We truly want to stay true to the Gospel of Jesus. However, I wonder how good we're doing at contextualizing the Gospel. What is the church in the south going to look like in 100 years? The culture is changing all around us. If we only contend for the Gospel, and fail to contextualize, could we end up looking like New England?

I'm planning on studying this more over the coming weeks. I'll post if I find anything interesting.

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