When I wrote in the Trouble with Paris about how hyperreality has affected contemporary Christianity, people went to town pointing the finger, which many had a right to do. But I did notice that people tended to point the finger at certain types of churches, which tended to be either contemporary Mega Churches or churches with a prosperity based theology. However what I did observed is that a lot of people, particularly those in Missional Churches failed to notice the ways in which Hyperreality influenced their own communities of faith.
Thus the influence of Missional Churches has been in my opinion damaged by our blindness to our own peculiar forms of cultural captivity. Whilst critics have blasted some contemporary churches for the way in which they confused the gospel with a consumerist aspirational lifestyle. Many have failed to note how unwittingly some missional and emerging churches have made the same error. Whilst on the whole missional churches are started and run by fantastic people who are personaly convicted to engage in mission; one of the biggest problems that many of these leaders find, is that the people who join their churches are not that missional. That they may initially have the right edgy style, they may say the right things and be reading the right books. But three years later, either things have fallen apart or the group has failed to grow or has done very little mission.
What many leaders fail to recognize is that many join Missional churches because they believe that it will culturally enrich their lives, they may think that they are joining because of mission but deep down other motivations are influencing them. The idea of leaving their staid church experience and entering a hyperreal missional world is incredibly enticing. Churches in Cafes, hipster leaders, people with your tastes, a more liberal approach to behaviour, cool urban locales, plus the culturally seductive whiff of ‘radicalness’ all combine to create an intoxicating mix. However the problem is that mission is not sexy, mission operates in the realm of reality, it actually requires hard work. It can carry a significant cost. It can be lonely and difficult, to be honest it can sometimes mess up your life, to be blunt it is anything but hyperreal.
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