Times Have Changed

By Barry Parker, Rector (Senior Minister)

Posted on October 4, 2017

"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." (Dorothy, The Wizard of Oz, 1939)

The Christian Church is shifting and changing throughout the world. One of the momentous changes we are experiencing is the shift out of Christendom. Since the fourth century, Christendom is simply Christianity as the established religion. It is used as synonymous with the Western world, the ‘official’ religion if you will. This had practical application. Christianity was the singular, dominant religion, meaning “everyone” either attended a local church or would consider themselves attached to one. For example, the Anglican church growth strategy in the 1940’s, after WWII, was simply to build churches, open the doors and they would be full.

Times have changed.

We now live in what is called post-Christendom. Post-Christendom is the loss of the primacy of the Christian worldview in the culture, especially in the Global North where Christianity had previously flourished, in favor of many alternative worldviews. When we speak of post-Christendom, we are making the point that the church no longer occupies this central place of social and cultural domination. Western civilization no longer considers itself to be formally or officially Christian.

We have one of two choices. We can be depressed at the demise of cultural Christianity, evidenced by the decline of so many churches in numbers and influence. Or, we can see this as a God-given opportunity to share the good news of Jesus in new, fresh and creative ways.

At St. Paul’s Bloor Street, we believe God is still Sovereign and Jesus is still the Head of His Church. We believe the world still needs the hope, meaning and purpose that is found in Jesus Christ. To that end, there is a sense of deep optimism and hope that infuses St. Paul’s. Sure, we have challenges and issues to engage. But we also believe God intends His Church to grow in health and spiritual depth. We long to invite as many as possible on this journey of faith.

One of the easiest and most effective ways to engage others in a faith journey here at St. Paul’s is a personal invitation. Yes, a simple invitation is the most effective way of introducing others to this great life-adventure of following Jesus, especially on a Sunday morning.

Think about your many relationships—family, friends, or work colleagues. Think of someone in particular. If you'd like, take the invitation card we are providing that simply welcomes others to participate on Sunday, October 15th. All you have to do is ask. God will take care of the rest. No matter the response, it is between the person you invite and God. It is that easy. Just as we were invited by someone, perhaps many years ago, it will be exciting to see what God is up to when we intentionally invite others on this journey.