We find ourselves as the church in the developed world in a strange position. I have heard others say and have said myself often that the church has returned to the place that it found itself in the book of Acts. We are in a missional situation. With the influence of Christendom fading, we find ourselves confronted with a pluralistic missionfield. We are forced to reconfigure ourselves to reach this new reality.
However there are many ways in which our situation is different to the book of Acts. The church in Acts was energised. It was filled with Jewish beleivers, who were motivated and excited by their discovery of the Messiah. Gentile believers were turning to faith as the Roman world began to collapse. Thus the gospel was moved forward on a fresh wave of excitement. We face a different situation, whilst our missional situation is something akin to the book of Acts. When it comes to the reality within the church we find our situation something more like the book of Hosea. In the time of Hosea, the people of God found themselves compromised by their worship of both God and the gods and Idols of the surrounding nations. So it is the same with us today. When we look inside the church we find the people of God struggling to live holy lives as they encounter a whole gamut of new idols, that is new gods who go by modern names, materialism, consumerism, technology, image and security. Although these gods seem new, the corrosive effect that they have on faith is the same as the ancient idols of Baal and Moloch.
So to position ourselves as the church, we must confront both realities, if we are to be missionaly effective we must also take note of our cultural captivity.