Old Church Model 'Killing the West'

Culture has rejected traditional institutions so the church should change, not complain about it, according to a prominent theologian and futurist.

Leonard Sweet, considered one of the church's most provocative thinkers, said the old model of church is "killing the West," at a conference at Baylor University's George W. Truett Theological Seminary, according to the Associated Baptist Press.

In the midst of an ever-changing culture, and more specifically, postmodernism, the church must become missional, relational and incarnational rather than remain attractional, propositional and colonial, he said.

The "Achilles' heel" of the church is the practice of attractional Christianity. "It's all 'come and see' and not 'go and be,'" Sweet explained in an earlier interview with Relevant magazine.

While churches try to figure out how to draw more people to the church, Sweet said it's not about getting people to come to church. "It should be about coming to Christ."

And during his seminary time, preaching was about making the Scriptures come alive, said Sweet. Now, Christians must come alive to the Scriptures.

Getting pastors in tune with the shift in culture, Sweet pointed out the first fundamental postmodernist who dates back to more than 2,000 years ago - Pontius Pilate. He asked Jesus, "What is truth?"

"Truth is Jesus. This is the uniqueness of Christianity in all of the religions of the world," Sweet told pastors and lay people at the three-day conference on Monday, according to ABP. "Every other religion defines truth in propositional terms."

While all other spiritual leaders told followers to find the way to enlightenment, Jesus said, "I am the way," Sweet pointed out. "Truth is relationship."

Sweet has come to terms with the postmodern generation's expectations of change, and not of the stability that he had growing up. And if the church stops changing, it dies, he said in the interview with Relevant.

"We do need classics ... but you don't stay there. I think the church has got to embrace impermanence."

The church, Sweet said, must change from the inside out.

The 5th Annual Conference for Pastors and Laymen at Truett Theological Seminary teaches participants about how to meet the challenges of ministry. The conference concludes Wednesday.