The State of the Nation

From the perspective of the gospel, our population can be thought of as three groups.

Serious Christians

The hardcore of serious Christians is probably about 5 percent of the population.

Serious Christians have the following characteristics.

Christian Memory

The second group have a Christian memory but do not participate in the church. They might be twenty percent of the population.

The Christian memory group have the following characteristics.

Modern World

The third group belongs in the modern world. In parts of America, this group is getting up toward 60 percent of the population. In New Zealand, they could be 80 percent.

The Modern World Group has the following characteristics.

Church Strategies

Modern church strategies are effective within the Christian Memory group. They are successful within a small sphere of influence.

The church has developed good techniques for drawing people from within its cultural orbit. All efforts are focused on getting people with a Christian memory to become Serious Christians.

This is an attractional model. Our task is to get people from the Christian Memory into church meetings of some kind.

Unfortunately, as the Christian Memory group is shrinking fast, attractional methods have become less effective.

Shrinking Cultural Influence

The numbers within our cultural orbit are getting older and less like to change. Their numbers are shrinking rapidly. Young people are leaking across the boundaries in a huge flood.

The culture shifters in our society belong in the Modern World, so they have momentum on their side.

House Churches

If they get their model wrong, house churches might be limited to rescuing people that are falling out of the church.

Many of the people who join house churches are in danger of falling out of the church because they are hurt. They were Serious Christians once, but bad experiences have deadened their passion. They are slipping out into Christian Memory. House Churches are a powerful tool for rescuing these people, but it is hard work. Many have been burned by over-zealous authority, so they are hard to get close to. Most carry unfinished baggage, so few will become world changers.


Many Christians are seeking a revival. Traditional revivals occurred among people with a Christian Memory. They were stirred by passionate preaching and revival meetings. Even if revival occurred in New Zealand, it would hardly be noticed because it would only touch the lives of people within the shrinking twenty percent who have a Christian Memory. The rest of society would not be touched. Revival is a false hope for New Zealand.

Serious Strategic Problem

The church has made a massive investment in reaching the Church Memory group, including buildings, car parks, video and sound technology, theological training of preachers, and training in video and sound production. However, this massive investment has gone into structures that are becoming less and less effective as our sphere of cultural influence shrinks dramatically.

We have put all our eggs in one basket, but the model that was designed to reach people with a Christian Memory can’t reach over the dividing wall into the Modern World where most people now belong.

The irony is that under the drive-to-church model that we have made a massive investment into, Christians spend most of their time in the Modern World. However, they live there as isolated individuals within the structures of the Modern World, and under the authority structures of the Modern World.

The massive irony is that we are living in the world that we are trying to reach, but the main Christian thing that we do is to drive out of it to a building where the world cannot see our connection, or hear what we are saying.

Were cannot communicate effectively to the Modern World we are living in because we are isolated from each other and dominated by the spiritual authority structures of the Modern World.

House Churches have not done much better.

This is a serious challenge.

Big Question.

The modern church lives in separation from the modern world. This leaves us with a communication problem. How do we get the people of the world to hear the gospel?

How do we get the gospel over this barrier?

This is a serious problem for the church. More of the same will not get the job done.

Announcing the good news from a pulpit in a church building will not work. Most of the people in the Modern World will not be willing to drive to a strange building.

Shouting from a distance and telling them what is wrong with them will not work. They already know that they have problems. They want workable solutions, not more condemnation.

A preacher standing on a pedestal where his people have placed him cannot reach over the divide to them. It is more likely that the people of the world will knock him down with accusations (true or false).

Flying in an American Evangelist will not do it. His communication model belongs to a different season, and his gospel is not good news for the modern world.

We need a Future Church model that can jump over the barrier and reach the Modern World. If we can’t solve this problem, the church will be swamped by the modern world.

The church desperately needs a better strategy. We need a Future Church model that can jump over the barrier and reach the Modern World.

Four Elements

Our strategy should have four important elements.

1. Live and Love in the Modern World

We need to get serious about doing the One Another Stuff. These are not optional extras for an hour on Sunday. They should be the heart of how we live. Read the list here. If you have to get into your car to do most of these things, something is wrong.

Jesus promised his disciples that if they loved one another, people of the world would be drawn to him. For people to see us love one another, we must be living in a way that allows the people of the world living around us to see our love for each other working out in our daily lives.

The solution is to go and live amongst them. A person/family going in isolation on their own would be hopeless. They could be overwhelmed by the pressure and fall. However, if some believers go into the world as a group and live close to each other, they will be able to sustain each other despite the pressure.

2. Place of Safety

The darkness is squeezing out the light in our society.

Christians are becoming a small minority in our society. We are currently tolerated, but as evil grows in confidence, this will change. As the world becomes hostile, standing alone will be dangerous. Christians are currently spread thinly throughout society. That was fine when we were a strong influence in society, but it is risky now that we have become a small minority. Isolated people are easily crushed.

We need a church model that can provide safety for Christians living in the world during a time of darkness and persecution.

3. Rescue Vehicle

As darkness spreads, the pain and sorrow of life in the world will grow massively.

Many people in the world will need to be rescued from the spiritual powers of evil. This will be a huge opportunity for the church, but only if we are ready for the task.

We need a church model that is capable of rescuing people who are crushed in the world and restoring them. They will need to be rescued into an environment of love and service.

4. Kingdom of God

The Holy Spirit will not be defeated. He will eventually push back the darkness and build the Kingdom of God.

The Holy Spirit will give the Kingdom of God to restored local communities.

We need a church model that can receive the Kingdom of God. We need a church model that the Holy Spirit can use to bring the Kingdom of God into neighbourhoods and local communities where people live.