Every young theological student, every young pastor, finds themselves before the difficult defining adjective’s of their time. Forced to answer cogently, clearly just what these adjectives actually mean for the churches identity and mission in the present world.

In my own time some of the more significant adjectives are post-collonialism, post-modernity, post-conservative and post-liberal, globalism, existentialism, critical-realism, and of course post-Christianity. Its to this last adjective that I now turn in this blog post. What does it mean when someone says the church is living in a ‘Post-Christian’ context? Andrew Walls, one of the most influential, well-respected historians of the churches mission answers below;

The twentieth century brought the transformation of the Christian Church, and opened a new chapter in Christian history. After a Western phase that lasted several centuries, the Church has a new shape, a new ethnic composition and a new cultural orientation. Christianity is again becoming a non-Western religion. There are considerable implications in this for the fulfillment of the Great Commission, making it a different matter from what appeared so plain to the delegates at Edinburgh in 1910.

For one thing, North America and Europe will now not be presiding at the table. The representative Christians, those by whom the quality of twenty-first (and doubtless twenty-second) century Christianity will be judged, are now Africans, Asians and Latin Americans; Western Christians are a minority (and if present trends hold, a shrinking minority), in the Church. The great theatres of mission, raising key issues for Christian faith and service and determining the Christian agenda for the whole world that Christ redeemed, are Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America. Western Christians, so long used to leadership since the time of the Great Migration, will need to learn new skills as assistants and facilitators. The way that globalization works in the world leaves the West in charge. True globalization in the Church could put the process into reverse. (pgs. 8-9)

This was taken from Walls retrospective look at the original World Missions Conference at Edinburgh in 1910 in leu of the upcoming conference in 2010. How different are the challenges of the church today. This is just one contextual marker young pastors like myself are wrestling to be relevant and faithful within. The ‘everyday mission’ we all live within falls within the context of Post-Christendeom, with new horizons and new adventures before us all. The question is will we follow our Lord and step out of the boat into the tumulteous seas below. Or will we pretend that the storm has come or the Lord isn’t standing upon the waters beconing us to come to him…