Alban Weekly | Wesley Granberg-Michaelson on what global Christianity means for the church in America

4 months ago

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What global Christianity means for the church in America
It's not news that the epicenter of Christianity has shifted to the global south. Yet many Christians in America seem unaware of that development, living as though in a bubble, says Wesley Granberg-Michaelson.
"People may have some sense that Christianity has shifted, but they aren't thinking about what that means for the church in the United States, for the 350,000 congregations here, and how we understand our faith," Granberg-Michaelson said.
A former general secretary of the Reformed Church in America, Granberg-Michaelson is the author of "Future Faith: Ten Challenges Reshaping Christianity in the 21st Century." In the book, he examines major influences on the faith and practice of Christianity in the world today and what they mean for the church in America.
The first step for Christians in the United States, Granberg-Michaelson said, is to recognize that they are part of a vibrant global faith.
"It would help American Christians if they reframed their own narrative to see that they're part of a faith that is thriving globally," he said. "It's complicated, but it's actually pretty exciting."
To do that, U.S. Christians must recognize "a few simple things."
"One is that we have to de-Americanize the gospel," he said. "We have to grasp the gospel in its real intent instead of interpreting it through this shroud of nationalism, which sometimes gets really extreme and causes all kinds of problems."
That means that Christians in the U.S. can no longer read the Bible simply through the lens of American culture.
"We need to open ourselves to the voices and the movements of Christianity outside our own culture, and that will open up the deep reality of the gospel to us," he said.
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 Open Source Church: Making Room for the Wisdom of All
by Landon Whitsitt
Open source software makes the basic program instructions available for anyone to see and edit. An 'open source church,' likewise, is one in which the basic functions of mission and ministry are open to anyone. Members feel free to pursue their callings from God that are consistent with what God has called the congregation to be and do. 
But what does 'open source church' look like? In Open Source Church: Making Room for the Wisdom of All, Landon Whitsitt argues that Wikipedia, the encyclopedia that anyone can see and edit, might be the most instructive model available to help congregations develop leaders and structures that can meet the challenges presented by our changing world. Its success depends, he demonstrates, not on the views of select experts but on the collective wisdom of crowds. Then, turning to the work of James Surowiecki in The Wisdom of Crowds, he explores the idea that the body of Christ itself -- when it is intentionally diverse, encourages independence of thought, values decentralization, and effectively captures and aggregates the group's collective wisdom -- is an open source church. 
Together, these phenomena show us what an 'open source church' looks like. It is the body of Christ at its best.
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