Developing a 2020 Vision for the Church:
The Christian Experience

by Dr. Bob Young
Thanksgiving 2017

Note: On the first Sunday of January 2000, I presented in a combined adult Bible class a list of items to be thoughtfully addressed if the church were to be a viable voice in the new millennium. I was asked to expand the list from that Bible class presentation into a series of bulletin articles. Those articles are still available on this website: Foundations Series.
Almost 20 years later, it is definitely time for a rewrite. The question is still valid: how can the church be a viable voice in the contemporary world? What questions must we address? What understandings are essential for Christianity to survive and thrive in the world we know today? This new series is again being written as articles, but it is expected that the articles will also be useful as outlines for sermon series or seminar presentations.
In this new series, I write to set forth a 20/20 vision, so that we might see more clearly, and to set a goal to be accomplished by the year 2020. The next two years will fly by quickly. Will the church learn anything from what it has experienced? Can the apparent decline in Christianity be reversed? Will the church find renewed strength and resolve to present God's truth with boldness, daring, and sensitivity so that a new generations of Christians learn to live in the world without becoming worldly, to understand the call to unity and diversity, to renew the mission so the primary message is always one of eternal hope? Now is the time to begin working toward the reality God desires for his people.


| Introduction | #1: Truth | #2: Bible Inspiration | #3: Bible Interpretation | #4: Church | #5: Unity | #6: Worldliness | #7: Christian Experience | #8: Mission | #9: Hope | #10: Human Nature | #11: Christian Living |


For those who may be accessing this series of articles for the first time and by way of review, the previous six articles have addressed three major challenges facing the church in the new millennium in the area of Bible knowledge (the nature of the Bible and the nature of truth, biblical inspiration, and biblical interpretation) and three major concerns in how the church understands itself (the nature of the church, the unity of the church, and the relationship of the church to the world).

With this seventh article, I introduce three additional practical concerns the church must address in the new millennium. These have to do with the nature of the Christian experience, the identification of the Christian mission, and the nature of the Christian hope. Under the umbrella of the Christian experience are many of the "issues" that trouble the church in the contemporary world. Defining the Christian experience biblically demands that one ask about worship, gender roles, and the value of human beings (which includes both a theoretical and practical understanding and practice in ethnic and racial issues). In this brief overview, I can only mention the need to address these concerns and suggest some basic beginning points.

In the practice of the church, we must somehow find healthy ways in which we can worship together, support one another, encourage one another, and be the redemptive and redeemed body of believers that is described in the New Testament. This encompasses and means we must address the nature of New Testament worship. Casting aside for the moment the matter of the use or non-use of instrumental music (a relatively recent innovation on the church scene), we must ask about the use of dialogue, drama and other sensory presentations which appeal to the empirical senses, and visual representations (distinguishing idolatry and icons). Such are not easy issues and much potential for differing viewpoints exists. We must ask how the genuine ekklesia (assembly or people) of God might be expected to solve a variety of divisive issues. What does it mean to speak of the Christian experience in the context of our present culture in matters of understanding gender and ethnic issues?

Beyond the concerns which are related to and arise in Christian worship, one must ask more broadly how the New Testament message is to be understood in today's world with regard to slavery, ethnic issues, social justice and freedom, and social oppression. Is the biblical message so out of step with the world's view that the church must remain distinct and isolationist in some matters, or does the biblical message suggest principles that may be applied in our world to improve gender and ethnic relationships by demonstrating that the genuine answers to these concerns is in the message of the Messiah who came to declare liberty for all?

As in the previous subjects in this series, such questions are not easy topics. In fact, these may be some of the most difficult of all. Answers will require our best thinking and reflection, coupled with a renewed commitment to knowing and understanding the message of Jesus Christ. I pray we will have the heart and good sense to commit ourselves to the task.

Go to Articles Index

Return to Home Page
Last updated November 23, 2017