Written by Larry Doornbos
July 2, 2024

Transformation in a Secular Age

Four ideas centered around transformation that will be discussed at the Church Now Cafe this August.

A critical task of pastors and ministry leaders in a renewal process is to lead people toward being transformed by God. Paul writes to the church in Rome, calling them to be transformed by the renewing of their minds.

  • How is a person transformed? Because we live in what Charles Taylor calls A Secular Age, we must confront the false belief that we can be transformed apart from God and the gospel.

Andy Root, in his latest book, The Church in an Age of Secular Mysticisms: Why Spiritualities without God Fail to Transform Us, gives us valuable guidance.

  • Root points out that if transformation happens outside of God and the gospel… “why is there any need for the church to exist, made up of persons who still yearn and believe it is necessary to witness to a transformation delivered freely and solely by the hand of the inbreaking God of the exodus? If transformation can happen outside of this…what is a pastor or ministry leader doing at all?”

This summer’s Church Now Cafe will explore this topic in detail, including the following big ideas.

Four Ideas at this year’s church now cafe
Idea 1. How people have become spiritual but not religious
  • Our life in late modernity has significantly shifted our focus to the self. Words like self-esteem, self-care, and self-made have become common in the last 50 years. This focus on the self and how we understand the self has shifted our focus away from the transcendent onto the self for all things.
Idea 2. How guilt is returning to our culture
  • Guilt and shame have returned in full force in our culture, but this is not your grandparent’s guilt. Most people think that guilt and shame—and the healing of both—rest in the self. They assume that the only way to find relief is either by being an epic hero or discovering and living out your inner genius. The gospel of Jesus lives outside this way of dealing with guilt. Pastors and church leaders must find a way to speak into this situation and call people to a hopeful faith.
Idea 3. How pastors and church leaders teach transformation
  • The new ways of self, guilt, and shame are in the cultural waters. How are these new ways expressed unintentionally in the church? How do we identify them? These trends will require church renewal leaders to be wise in how they talk about transformation.
Idea 4. How the secular mysticisms of both the right and the left battle gospel transformation
  • Secular mysticisms declare that transformation flows from within a person, but the Bible is clear that gospel transformation comes from outside of a person. Because of this conflict, secular forces constantly and subtly attack gospel transformation. The church must understand these attacks and speak with grace and truth as we confront these attacks.

Join us for the pivotal Church Now Cafe event, where we will unpack these and other realities, as we seek to wisely minister in a Secular Age.

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