Guest / Limited Access /

Hardly a day goes by that a book or an email doesn't arrive telling me how to "transform the culture" or "change the world."

In one recent email, a conference promised the attendance of many nationally recognized evangelical speakers. I went to the website and read that at this conference, among other things, I will "find out what it means to be inwardly strong and outwardly focused and to have a church body that desires to change the world from the inside-out!"

I have on my desk a book subtitled "The Passion and Practices of Missional Churches," and the subtitle for one chapter says that missional churches "expect to change the world." It leads with a quote from a well-known futurist, who says, "It is still God's policy to work through the embarrassingly insignificant to change his world and create his future." The book points to one Southern California church and says, "The ultimate criteria for determining its effectiveness is the transformation of Los Angeles."

Are they ever in for a big disappointment. On top of that, I'm now worried for Los Angeles.

I hesitate to cheer for cultural transformation, though not because I like the world just the way it is. Hardly. I read the paper this morning. I hesitate, though not because I don't believe that the church impacts the world. It has impacted the world and will continue to do so. I hesitate because I think the goal of transforming our city, our culture, or our world can lead to little good.

The church is rightly embarrassed by well-lit displays of the Crusades, the Inquisition, murderously Reformed Geneva, and the Salem witch trials in history's hall of shame. What do all these events have in common? They were motivated by a desire to transform the culture, if not the world, ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

SoulWork
In "SoulWork," Mark Galli brings news, Christian theology, and spiritual direction together to explore what it means to be formed spiritually in the image of Jesus Christ.
Mark Galli
Mark Galli is Editor of Christianity Today in Carol Stream, Illinois.
Previous SoulWork Columns:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssueNew & Noteworthy Books
Subscriber Access Only
New & Noteworthy Books
Compiled by Matt Reynolds
Recommended
Subscriber Access Only Book Uncovers a Lonely, Spiritually Desolate Mother Teresa
"There is no God in me," she wrote.
TrendingResearch Says: Young People Don't Want Hip Pastors
Research Says: Young People Don't Want Hip Pastors
A study of 250 congregations suggests that youth and young adults want substance rather than style.
Editor's PickThe Precarious Future of Assisted Suicide
The Precarious Future of Assisted Suicide
'Culture of Death' sounds the alarm on pending medical bioethics legislation and other troubling trends.
Christianity Today
On Not Transforming the World
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

August 2007

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.