Church attendance is declining every year. Fewer people than ever have even set foot in a church. The church as an institution has far less influence in our society than it used to.
Why is this? What happened?
The fact is we live in a Post-Christendom world. Christendom is that part of the world and that part of world history in which Christianity was the dominant shaper of culture. We might even say Christianity was the culture.
But we live in a very different world.
In this episode, Markus Watson unpacks the origin of Christendom, how it shaped the church, and the reality of our Post-Christendom existence.
THIS EPISODE’S HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE:
- Markus shares a story about feeling frustrated that attendance and giving in his church were both declining.
- We live in a Post-Christendom world.
- Christendom and Christianity are not the same thing.
- Christendom is that part of the world in which Christianity is in control of the culture.
- Christendom began with the conversion to Christianity of the Roman Emperor Constantine in 312 A.D.
- When Constantine legalized Christianity, the church was suddenly thrust into a position of cultural and political power.
- Before Christendom, becoming a Christian involved an intense 2-year period of catechesis and examination.
- After Christendom, it was possible to be a Christian without conversion or commitment.
- Constantine was never catechized and was baptized only shortly before his death.
- A new distinction emerged.
- Before Christendom, the primary distinction was between church and world.
- During Christendom, the primary distinction was between clergy and laity.
- The clergy’s job in Christendom was to provide spiritual goods and services for the “ordinary” Christians.
- Today, people aren’t interested in the church’s spiritual goods and services.
- There is a wonderful opportunity for the church because of the decline of Christendom. The church can recover its identity as a missionary people, participating with God to restore shalom in the world.
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