“How far can relevance take us?”
In his latest book, Disappearing Church: From Cultural Relevance to Gospel Resilience (releases to day from Moody Publishers), Mark Sayers poses this question, and the answer is eye opening. For decades the Western church has sought to gain relevance, to gain the respect of “the public,” but in so doing has played into the hands of cultural beliefs and norms that actually undermine the gospel. By trying to validate itself the church has undermined its mission.
Can cultural decline be stopped? How should the church engage culture? How can the church present the gospel to a culture that believes in no god but the self? Are the methods the church has been using working? Sayers addresses each of these questions in the pages of this book and does so in convincing, biblically grounded, powerful fashion.
Few authors can weave together history, theology, sociology, missiology, and cultural observation in a manner that not only makes sense but is compelling and accessible. But Mark Sayers can. Drawing on an incredible breadth of sources he creates a tapestry narrative of how the church got to where it is today from where it all began in the book of Acts. He shows that the battles the church is fighting today against cultural lies are not new battles, but rather current ones against old heresies wearing new faces. He uses scholarship as a foundation, but writes with a light touch and a rare gift for description. Writing for “normal” readers – non academics and non theologians – while describing complex ideas is difficult, but Sayers does it remarkably.
Disappearing Church is a book every church leader, Christian educator, and believer seeking to engage the lost with the gospel should read. It is deep, but not complicated and thoughtful without being heavy. Sayers communicates like a good pastor should with an abundance of truth shared in a way people can understand. This is one of those rare books that makes the reader cock their head and think “Wow, I never thought of it like that before” even as it presents timeless and biblical truths. It does readers to think and act differently without being overbearing or heavy-handed.
Go get this book. It is fantastic.
Mark Sayers other recent books, The Road Trip that Changed the World and Facing Leviathan are both excellent and written in the same fashion. If you;re a reader who thrives on excellent writing exhibiting clear, complex ideas communicating deep truths then go get these.