By Ericka Carr |
Over spring break, I traveled to Northern England to teach middle and high school students about Christianity. The first question I asked myself when I heard about this trip was, “Why would a first world country need missionaries?”
You might be thinking the same thing, but what you and I missed is the fact that the United Kingdom is a post-Christian culture.
You may be asking, “Ericka, what is a post-Christian culture?” It’s okay, I didn’t know what that meant either.
A post-Christian culture is a society that has moved past Christianity onto other major religions or no religion at all. In England, this looks like a nation full of abbeys with mostly empty seats.
In a country that created its own church in order to allow divorce, most people believe that God doesn’t exist. Naive me who grew up in the Bible Belt had no frame of reference for what life without mass Christianity looks like. But what I experienced in the people that had authentic relationships with Christ was a radical type of faith that far surpassed mine.
Traveling into a post-Christian culture changed my life and my relationship with Christ.
It gave me a deeper appreciation for being raised in a Christian home. I often wonder what my life would look like had I not been a preacher’s daughter. Being in England gave me a quick glimpse into what that would have been like— hopeless.
While in England, I went into schools with teams of people prepared to defend the Christian faith and its moral stances. What I discovered were students hungry for a new perspective. Because these students know very little of Christianity (and nothing of it outside of ritualistic Church of England liturgy), they were shocked to see young adults absolutely enamored by God, a God that gives them life and joy at no cost.
I have a theory that because children in England grow up only knowing Christianity by its definition rather than its practice, when they experience relational Christianity for the first time, they’re too fascinated by it to turn away. It’s kinda like those pimple popping videos my sister loves.
I came back with a desire to save America and save Baylor from falling into the trap of becoming a post-Christian culture— the one it’s already slipping into.
But there’s also something powerful to learn from believers in post-Christian cultures— unity.
While in the schools, I would tell students that denominational differences hardly mattered. As long as a church believed that salvation comes only by faith in Jesus Christ— that it cannot be earned and is awarded through undeserved grace— they’re Christian. But when I got back to Texas, I realized that I do little to bridge the gap that our selfishness and pride created.
In England, there was no way to distinguish between the members of the Hexham, Birtley, Sunderland and Waco churches. I experienced forms of charismatic worship in England that I’m not used to seeing on a regular basis because, on a normal Sunday, we don’t worship in the same ways. However, across the sanctuary members from all four churches were joined together in worship and prayer. We were united despite our differences.
Christians—we can be so caught up in remaining comfortable that we tend to miss out on opportunities of growth that God has given us. I pray that our society never loses sight of God. But at the same time, as America moves towards becoming a post-Christian culture, it opens a door for radical unity in the church. If it looks anything like the unity I experienced in England— count me in.