There are events that occur only rarely in history that transform cultures and generations for all time. We call these event-eras an “epoch”. Epochs are cultural advancements that leave an indelible mark upon the world so that it will never again be the same. To those who have been fortunate to encounter a global epoch, and who have been transformed by the experience, they cannot help but view the pre-epoch culture as anything other than mundane and antiquated. An epoch experience is a giant leap in the intellectual and cultural development of humanity.
This book is about just such an epoch, and how it will forever transform the ministry strategies used by Christ’s Church. People generally resist imposed change, therefore epochs are also resisted. An epoch is “change on steroids”. As such, epochs are often accompanied by war and the destruction of those societal structures that refuse to embrace the values and knowledge that accompanies a global epoch. It makes little difference whether the destruction of those who resist epoch revolutions take place intentionally, as a result of some militant action, or passively, as the result of obsolescence, the end result is the same…people and institutions who fail to embrace a global epoch ultimately diminish, and then disappear. Examples of global epochs include: The printing press, mass transit, radio, television, personal computers, and the internet. Each epoch progressively transforms societal culture. What is the result? Few people today would consider rewinding the clock to replace the world we now know with that of a previous era.
Christ’s Church is once again confronting a global epoch. The global internet culture has so profoundly transformed how communication occurs, and how relationships form and are maintained, that in retrospect, the mediums and structures of today’s institutional church seem “mundane and antiquated”. Our institutional churches are at a crossroads, whether they realize it or not. They must either embrace the global epoch or die. In much the same way the traditional churches of the 1940’s and 1950’s were rejected by the television-influenced boomer generation as culturally irrelevant, a global epoch magnifies the discrepancy between relevant and irrelevant incalculably. It is in humanity’s nature that we filter our understanding of Scripture and worship through our unique cultural distinctives. So while Christians will always share in common the truth of redemption by grace, and through faith, in the divine-personhood and all-sufficient-work of Jesus Christ, how we implement and apply our understanding of what it means to “live for Christ” may radically differ from culture to culture. Sadly, we become so accustomed to our own cultural paradigm, that any means of Christ-centered worship and Christian practice, apart from our preferred cultural norm, may be viewed by some as strange at best, and at worst, denounced as theological error. Epochs change culture. Epochs forever change a culture’s values and practices. With this is mind, I ask that proceed through this book with a shared commitment to withhold our judgment against those who are adopting cultural preferences that significantly differ from the establishment.
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