"The melding of the gospel and the american dream" - Interview with Missionary AaroN Meyers - part 1
Aaron Meyers is a former missionary and church planter in Turkey. He is now working as the South Dakota Area Coordinator for the Crescent Project. This organization is equipping the church here in the states to minister to Muslim immigrants and refugees within their own communities. I called Meyers to talk to him about his missionary experience and his perspectives regarding young people and the church.
Z: What is the primary way you do mission work here in the States?
A: My primary role is to engage the church so that the church will engage Muslim immigrants and refugees. There is a lot of fear, misunderstanding and disobedience to the great commission. I am trying to help mobilize the church into the harvest. We also put a lot of work into building relationships; sharing meals and friendship with our good friends who happen to be Muslim.
Z: What are the blockades that the church is dealing with concerning mission work here in the States?
A: There are a number of pieces.
First, I just don’t know if people really believe in the gospel. The great commission is a command that the church seems to be fine with disobeying.
There is an issue there. The church has moved away from being a missional movement which is what is has been throughout history and is still today throughout many parts of the world. The church is a church on mission. The western church however has moved into a different place by in large.
I think this is a result of dualism, a melding of the gospel with the American dream. You hear people gnashing their teeth about how terrible things are today. I think, “Well the Apostle Paul lived under Nero, he was slaughtering Christians and Paul told us to pray for him.” You don’t hear the Chinese church, the Egyptian church, the Iranian church, the African church, spending lots and lots of time taking on governmental systems that are a part of this broken and fallen world. Democracy isn’t going to save this world-Jesus is. That’s one piece of it.
The question we have to ask is “do we look more like Jesus and the Christians in the book of Acts or more like American society?” If there is uncertainty then maybe there is a problem.
There are some people talking about the golden years of Christianity of the 1950s, but I think those might have been the years that lots of bad spiritual things were happening, though it looked really nice if you were white. If you were not white it didn’t look very nice.
I will say, there was probably a prevailing Judeo-Christian worldview during that time. Fifty years ago, if you were the banker in town you were in church Sunday morning because otherwise no one would bank with you. You would have heard sermons every week with stories from the bible. You also would have had a general biblical fluency whether you believed in or not.
Fast forward to today and we have a whole generation of people who are not in church but are unchurched. I had friends growing up that went to church twice a year. Their mom and dad probably went to church growing up because their mom and dad made them. My friends have raised a whole generation of kids now who don’t even bother going twice a year.
In some ways the church is operating in a 1950s paradigm in a 2017 worldview that is completely other compared to that. The underlying worldviews of the of nones, the young people leaving the church, is part of the reason the older generation is having a hard time. These older generations don’t realize that there has been a primary shift in the underlying worldview driving things.
For the church, the thing we need to do, is go back to being primarily a missional movement. In order to do this we need to strip off our traditions, our forms of worship and the theologies that carry the flavor of western individualism.