by Abram Book
Christianity Today, Leadership Journal.net
The pastors who gave us "purpose-driven" ministry and "seeker-oriented" services are leading their churches to take up new causes, campaigns that do not promise growth, at least not traditional church growth.
Rick Warren is championing the eradication of AIDS, illiteracy, and poverty in Africa, and Bill Hybels has named racial reconciliation as his next summit worth climbing. The question is, will their churches and the thousands of churches that take their cues from Saddleback and Willow Creek join the campaigns?
A skeptical observer of these developments suggested this article be titled "Boomer Pastors Get a Social Conscience," noting that concern for social issues was characteristic of his own generation since before they were named "busters." It is true that the prominent churches of the boomer-led era are known more for excellence in leadership, weekend services, and evangelism than for tackling social justice issues, but to attribute their leaders' recent elevation of social causes to the midlife need for significance and legacy seems a harsh judgment.
The megachurch pastors who have set trends in worship style and evangelism for three decades have done so out of concern for the lost people of their (and the subsequent) generation.
Their emphasis was in leading Christians to reach unchurched people in their surrounding communities effectively. Now, with their paradigm-shifting strategies ingrained on their local congregations and espoused by pastors in churches worldwide, these prominent leaders are turning their focus further outward.
They're shifting their efforts to people and issues that cannot be changed within the walls of their large auditoriums, or by cell group meetings in their church members' suburban living rooms, or through pilgrimages to summits at satellite host sites across North America.
The apostles of the contemporary church are moving out of Jerusalem and Judea, through despised Samaria, to address even larger issues worldwide. And they're inviting their purpose-driven and seeker-oriented disciples to follow.
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