Since the beginning of this church plant, we have been talking about the uniqueness of, and our love for, Orange County. Not only have we talked about different aspects of its culture, but the influence and impact it has on America as a whole.
Using D.A. Carson’s description of how a group of people goes from belief in the Gospel to unbelief - the first generation believes it, the second assumes it, and the third denies it - we’ve also talked about the challenge and opportunity it presents for mission. Two generations ago, churches like Calvary Chapel, the Vineyard, Saddleback, and Mariners were birthed in Orange County by the Baby Boomer generation. These churches had an impact that reached far beyond the roughly 800 square miles of Orange County. I was born near the end of “Generation X”, and, while I may be generalizing, at some point my generation began to assume the Gospel; being a Christian became culturally beneficial and we aimed for many of the wrong things, such as behavior modification and political influence (Kim Riddlebarger’s first-person history is worth considering at this point). Now, with the Millennials coming of age, poll after poll is showing that this is generation is the least likely of any to have any religious affiliation.
Living & Ministering on the Front Lines of the American Future
But with great challenge comes great opportunity. That’s why I was excited, scared, and emboldened by some comments that Al Mohler made during his recent visit to California Baptist University. For those unfamiliar with Dr. Mohler, he is the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a leading Christian thinker and voice on religion in America. In response to a comment from a young man in our church about being a part of a church plant in Orange County, Dr. Mohler said that Orange County is the "laboratory" for how Christians are going to relate to our broader culture in the coming years.
Because Orange County is in a region called an exaggerated America by sociologists, and because of the tri-generational slide described by D.A. Carson that can be seen regionally and nationally, churches and pastors need to see the incredible need and opportunity for the Gospel here! How we preach the Gospel, equip our people, form our churches, and relate to our cities and communities will resonate beyond these 800 square miles. Friends, this is the time for us to aim for the right things and pray that God would bless the work of our hands (Ps. 90).