We must build relational momentum to help people experience Christianity.
It is not enough for one Christian to befriend and share her faith with another person. That worked in a culture that was mostly Christian, where most people grew up with a background knowledge of and respect for the Bible, mainly needing the central theme of grace clarified to decide whether to follow Christ. However, in today’s post-Christian context, people often need the intersection of three elements in order to find faith and become the church:
1. A friendship with someone who truly acts like Jesus—listening, caring, serving, and talking openly about faith in a non-pressuring way. (We talked about this in part 1.)
2. Relationship with a “tribe” of four to five other Christians whom they enjoy hanging out with and who make them feel like they truly belong (the focus of this chapter).
3. A “come as you are” learning environment where they can learn, usually for six to eighteen months, about the Way of Jesus. (We will discuss this in chapter 13.)
When all three of these elements intersect the lives of those far from God, it’s amazing how many people find the love and grace of God and bring their network of friends and family along with them. You will begin to see more and more people, once far from God, now following Christ and leading others to do the same. But first we must build relational momentum.
Europe, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and much of the United States and even South America face post-Christian barriers to people finding faith. It requires relationship and learning to overcome these barriers. In a post-Christian context, most people do not really know much about the Bible or the life-giving Way of Jesus, but there still exists an awareness of Christianity (usually this awareness comes only from negative media or bias about Christians). Honestly, it would be easier in some respects to reach a culture with zero awareness of Christianity than have to overcome negative stereotypes left in the wake of dying churches, but post-Christian is where much of the world lives.
In order for people of post-Christian cultures to become followers of Jesus, they must get to know multiple Christians willing to be open about their own struggles while also demonstrating the hope and fruit of the Spirit-filled life. When non-Christians encounter Christians who act like they never struggle, have all the answers, and suggest quick fixes for every problem, they quickly see through the pharisaical pretense and want nothing to do with that kind of faith.