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The apostle Paul’s open letter to the church

From my friend Bill Wilkie: “Alan Cross, a Pastor in Alabama with a blog www.downshoredrift.com, asked people to write a letter to the American church from Paul, the Apostle. Andrew Hicks wrote a great letter that served as a template for me. I wrote the attached letter in response. You …
By Seth Barnes

From my friend Bill Wilkie:

“Alan Cross, a Pastor in Alabama with a blog www.downshoredrift.com, asked people to write a letter to the American church from Paul, the Apostle. Andrew Hicks wrote a great letter that served as a template for me. I wrote the attached letter in response. You can see others responses on Alan’s blog site.”

To the Body of Christ in America,

After a review of your efforts over the last 150 years to “‚Ķdisciple the nations..,” I commend you for your innovation and risk-taking in sending individuals to far-away places as Christ’s and your representatives. Christ has honored this commitment and blessed the sacrifice of many people.

From the efforts of people like Hudson Taylor, who exhibited radical obedience even in the face of opposition from the establishment church in England, the “house church” movement in China and other places is alive, well and doubling every 24-36 months.

In your 21st century, you may well see the Gospel of Christ (“Repent, the Kingdom of God is at hand”) lived out in the daily and even mundane lives of ordinary people empowered by God to transform cultures, nations, and individuals as they look forward to the return of the Christ.

I look forward to the day when we can share our common experiences of empowering small groups of people in local settings who sustained 40% per decade compounded growth over a 300-year period.

My disciples and their descendants impacted the Mediterranean world and the Roman Empire by recognizing the important role that those future generations would play in the transformation of their culture. Likewise, I see a generation emerging in America that will understand the need and could empower indigenous believers around the four key elements of culture: social, political, economic and spiritual.

Rather than doing the work themselves along with its short-term immediate gratification, your next generation seems to possess a long-term perspective and strategy. I expect that their efforts to “disciple nations” will produce dramatic results over the next two hundred years in the numbers of disciples and the transformation of cultures in America as well as other nations.

Even though you have accomplished much abroad; nevertheless, I fear that the “Body of Christ” in America has become part of the establishment middle class. American culture has basically taken control of your life and destiny because of good work, a stable salary, great fringe benefits, a nice house, and car, as well as other amenities that make life comfortable.

Rather than using this as a springboard to “disciple America,” its institutions and culture, you have too often embraced and integrated many attributes into your life and the life of the Church. You have made it easy to become a part of your church, but you are producing “seedless grapes” that look great, taste wonderful and are even nutritious. However, they cannot reproduce because they have not been challenged to give up the right to control their lives totally.

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