The Christian Movement Talks Differently

"It bears repeating that Christianity was not born a religion. It was born a collection of hearts on fire. These people were not debaters, fighters, nor another society of the elect. They were people who believed in the radical notion of universal access to God - not just access but also limitless love, as witnessed in the incarnation. So they worshiped on their tiptoes. They leaned up."
-Robin Meyers in The Underground Church

Over time this beautiful, robust way of life organized around the Way of Jesus Christ slipped away from its origin as a spiritual/social movement, becoming a religion with all the trappings thereof. In fact, it moved from being persecuted by the Roman Empire to cozying-up to the Empire, becoming the “official” religion (See Constantine and Christian leaders). Since then, Christian history is the story of a codified religion, with sparks of spiritual renewal and outbreak periodically.

Strangely, here in North America we are experiencing the deformation of the Christian religion as we’ve known it. The messy divorce of American culture/government and Christianity is taking place right before our eyes. No matter where one may be on the conservative/liberal theological spectrum, most of us are aware that church-as-we-have-known-it is on the decline.

Simultaneously, a word drawn from our history describes the other dynamic at play right alongside the Christian cultural deformation – resurrection. As the
Christian religion sheds its forms and formulas, appearing to be in its death throws, God is raising our faith toward newness and life. We are privileged to live in this time when this Christian religion is returning to its beginnings; becoming a movement again.

In fact, I’m noticing that while describing our faith during training events and in conversations, my language is different.. The word “Christianity” is nearly gone from my vocabulary, instead finding myself describing the “Christian Movement.” Using this phrase is descriptive and aspirational. The Holy Spirit is active and moving, hovering over the waters, bringing forth life from the chaos of this broken and hurting world. This activity is more like a movement than a religion. People are embracing their identities as disciples, joining God’s effort to transform the world toward God’s kingdom, while also forming closer bonds of support, encouragement, and mutual accountability in churches than ever before in our lifetimes. Even while this is happening, this “Christian Movement” phrase is also aspirational. Most of us long and yearn for a church who is more robust and alive than we have experienced. We want to grow into God’s dreams for being the Church in its fullest expression. We are, and we aspire to become, the Christian Movement.

So, how about joining me? Let’s drop the word “Christianity;” an artifact left-over from the Modern Era (pre-2000). Instead, let’s embrace the action-oriented, creative, life-giving expression of our faith rising up all around us as we speak – the “Christian Movement.”

Mark Tidsworth, President, PLA