Forty-one years ago today Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first human beings to set foot on a terrestrial body other than earth; A historic achievement that has never been duplicated in the same way since.
Sure, they went back to the moon six more times and drove a moon buggy, hit a golf ball and so on. Never-the-less, first steps are only done once. After Apollo 18, in late 1972, humans have not been back to the moon since.
I am sneaking away from camp to do a bit of work and use the Internet and I read an article by Ed Stetzer about contextualization. In preacher circles, contextualization is finding fresh ways to communicate the gospel, and it is a big deal. Ed observes that contextualization is all about communication. The gospel has, of course not changed. What has changed is the receivers and the way in which they communicate. People, young pepole in particular have changed so much, western culture has become a different planet overnight.
Shakespeare referred to death in Hamlet as the ‘undiscovered country.’ (also the title of one of the good Star Trek movies) and this is the challenge that faces the church. Without actually changing locations, your church has been moved in the past ten years to an undiscovered country. The language of the people in your community has changed. In order to be faithful to the call on our hearts we must learn a new language. Mark Love calls this a ‘faithful shift in imagination’ A new way of being the church. Are you willing to make the trip?
It isn’t a stretch to compare communicating the gospel to today’s culture with travelling to a whole new planet. Your first few steps there will be awkward. You are going to be bouncing around waving your hands a lot. Be prepared to fall down a few times. The key difference is that the church must not expend these resources and spend this time preparing, only for a visit to this new culture. We aren’t just coming for a visit to the 21st century. We need to pack bags (pack lightly people!) and prepare to stay.