In the following excerpt, Robert Kolb speaks of how God’s people – a more specifically – congregations will need to respond to the unchurched neighbours who live among them and around them as North America becomes an increasingly post-church culture.
Many of our congregations have been able in the past to be clubs for nice people. In the future our congregations will be havens for the hopeless, hospitals for those in need of healing, home for the homeless. Our congregations will be hospitals filled with patients and healers, and patients and healers will from time to time be exchanging roles. The bleeding, the physical needs, the emotional wants, of the North American population are growing. The ideology of the public square, guided by the principles of materialism and individualism, increasingly is unable to meet the needs of those around us. Christian congregations, in their small and individual ways, are called to be salt and light in world falling apart.
As a church historian, it seems to me that the challenges have never been greater than they are in this day and age for Christians to share the love and the life of Christ. We have a sure defense, the mighty fortress of our God, and in that fortress we do not circle the wagons. Instead we charge into the world around us with the love of Jesus Christ. We charge into the world with the sort of spirit which seems to be the lily of peace as we stretch out our arms to embrace the bleeding, the bedraggled, the beleaguered around us. We have been given the privilege of ministering in such a time as this with the same old mission, sent in new ways, to preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins, to retain and forgive sins so that Christ’s people may come to Him, the Light and the Life of the world.
Robert Kolb, “Mission to Today’s World: Implications for the Congregations”, Missio Apostolica, Vol. IV, No.2, November 1996, p. 102