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The Church as a Contrast Society

By Les Henson.

Photo by Nina Strehl on Unsplash

In Western society, the church is no longer at the centre of society, nor is it closely aligned with the power structures that shape the lives of everyday people. Formerly, during the Christendom period, the Western church exercised extensive power and the ability to orchestrate change. However, Christendom is now dead, despite the residual effect upon the minds of many Christian people. Thus, the church needs to recognise the reality that it is no longer in a position of power or prestige, and it must learn to live accordingly. Thus, it must rediscover other ways of being the church in a post-everything society.

Lesslie Newbigin and others have suggested that we should view the church as a contrast society ordered by a different story, a different set of values and convictions, adhering to a set of different practices and motivated by a different Spirit. Indeed, such a model of being the church has tremendous promise with respect to its missional engagement in and for the world. In part, the church must rediscover its missionary character and live an embodied life of witness in the world. Not from a position of power but a position of weakness only then will it be a contrast society that challenges the prevailing power structures that are at odds with the gospel of Jesus Christ and the kingdom and reign of God in the world.


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