Belonging before believing: some missiological implications of membership and belonging in a Christian community

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Abstract:

In the final stages of the modern period the power of hegemonic ideologies is coming to an end as people identify less with grand ideologies and more with subcultures related to technology and social and economic networks of different kinds. The post-Christendom phase has begun and is radically challenging Christendom notions of membership and ministry. We have to assume that in a post-Christendom society, the familiarity with Christian concepts will fade as the decline of Christendom has meant that Christian discourse has been losing its status as a lingua franca. It is therefore important that the church will anticipate longer journeys towards faith and not move on to disciple new converts too quickly. Post-Christendom evangelisation will consequently take longer, start further back and move more slowly. For these reasons the authors propose that the question of standards for membership be reconsidered where churches are planted in postmodern contexts. They propose that the old order of ‘believing before belonging’ be replaced by ‘belonging before believing’