In this day and age of information overload, asking why we need another think tank is a reasonable question. The decline of the church in the Western world and the rise of the phenomena that some call “post-Christendom” is already the subject of much consideration. It seems that publications that include the moniker “post-Christendom” in its title are ubiquitous. There is no lack of ink being spilled or conversations being had around the issue of the decline of the church in Western culture. So why is there a need for a Centre for Post-Christendom Studies?
The Western world is in a time of tremendous transition and the effects of this transition are felt as deeply in the church as they are anywhere else. Is there any other institution that has felt the effects of the ongoing shifts in culture more than the church? Whether it is the mainline Protestant, Evangelical, Catholic or Orthodox church, no other institution has moved more completely from near the center of things to the margins. Is there any other ideology that has seen its influence fade as quickly and as thoroughly as Christianity over the last fifty years? For those of us who care about these changes, there is a need to respond with real intentionality. What action is needed is part of what needs to be discerned and hence there is a great need for a place where those who care about the future of Christian faith in Western culture can gather to discuss and discern what responses are appropriate and what it means to respond in a constructive way.
The Centre for Post-Christendom Studies wants to be a gathering place for those who care about the future of Christianity in the Western world and are committed to the task of discerning the way forward. The Centre wants to be a place that reflects on the past so that we can learn from places that have already experienced post-Christendom scenarios and offer the wisdom of history in order to inform the way into the future. The Centre wants to be a place where academics and ministry practitioners can offer their diagnosis of the present situation for the church in the West and present their ideas for best practices that will inform the ministry of the church in its current context. The Centre also wants to be a place where thinkers and practitioners can work alongside one another as we seek to discern the way forward for the Church in the post-Christendom West.
In a time of immense transition like the one we find ourselves in here in Canada, the United States and Western Europe, we need a place that brings together people who care deeply about the future and want to offer their best efforts to help the church navigate its way into that future. This is why the Centre for Post-Christendom Studies has been established. We want to help the church flourish in its new context and we need a place that helps us work together for that purpose. Hopefully, this Centre can be that place.
We welcome your participation in it.
*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of McMaster Divinity College or the Centre for Post-Christendom Studies.*