Developing a 2020 Vision for the Church:
The Church and the World

by Dr. Bob Young
Thanksgiving 2017

Note: On the first Sunday of January 2000, I presented in a combined adult Bible class a list of items to be thoughtfully addressed if the church were to be a viable voice in the new millennium. I was asked to expand the list from that Bible class presentation into a series of bulletin articles. Those articles are still available on this website: Foundations Series.
Almost 20 years later, it is definitely time for a rewrite. The question is still valid: how can the church be a viable voice in the contemporary world? What questions must we address? What understandings are essential for Christianity to survive and thrive in the world we know today? This new series is again being written as articles, but it is expected that the articles will also be useful as outlines for sermon series or seminar presentations.
In this new series, I write to set forth a 20/20 vision, so that we might see more clearly, and to set a goal to be accomplished by the year 2020. The next two years will fly by quickly. Will the church learn anything from what it has experienced? Can the apparent decline in Christianity be reversed? Will the church find renewed strength and resolve to present God's truth with boldness, daring, and sensitivity so that a new generations of Christians learn to live in the world without becoming worldly, to understand the call to unity and diversity, to renew the mission so the primary message is always one of eternal hope? Now is the time to begin working toward the reality God desires for his people.

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| Introduction | #1: Truth | #2: Bible Inspiration | #3: Bible Interpretation | #4: Church | #5: Unity | #6: Worldliness | #7: Christian Experience | #8: Mission | #9: Hope | #10: Human Nature | #11: Christian Living |

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Five articles have preceded this one (plus an introduction). The first three articles addressed the nature of the Bible, biblical inspiration, and biblical interpretation. The next two articles introduced "church" matters--the nature of the church and the unity of the church. A third major concern is the relationship of the church to the world.

Perhaps more than at any time in recent history, the church, and individual members of the church, have a tremendous difficulty in thinking properly about this world. Sometimes those groups which have tended toward the greatest fundamentalism have most easily assimilated the world's values and standards uncritically, while at other times these groups have stood aloof, fearing contamination. How does one determine which is the appropriate response at which time? We want to heed the biblical injunction not to conform to this world, but at the same time we are anxious to respond to the call of Jesus to penetrate the world, to be salt and light, in order to slow, and perhaps even stop, its decay and to illuminate its darkness.

Paul warned the Corinthians about the importance of being in the world while not being of the world. At the root of the involvement of the church with the world is the adoption of a world-driven worldview. What is your perspective? How do you look at things?

Until we come face to face with God's desire to fashion within the church a people who are like him, possessed by him, and guided by him, we will continue to marvel at the inroads the world makes into our lives, and we will remain generally powerless to do anything about it since we do not understand how it is happening.

Talking about the dangers and threats posed by the world may be an area where we know better than we do. If so, the church must restore in the days ahead the prophetic voice that calls light light and dark dark and countenances no wishy-washy middle ground in the realm of lifestyle and morality. I want to be sympathetic to those who lives are wrecked by the evil which they could not see and did not know. God may not be as sympathetic to those of us who sin "with our eyes wide open" and seek forgiveness without making the necessary changes in our lives which will keep sin at bay.

I do not have all the answers, but I am confident the church must think clearly about the relationship between the church and the world, and specifically about the relationship of individual Christians to the world. Even though the church must be in the world, it does not follow that the world must be in the church!


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Last updated November 23, 2017