Once known as the “Bible Belt,” the culture of the Southeast is something far different from the cultural Christianity of the past. Christianity is more confused with a moralistic deism teaching that if you are good that the God you want nothing to do with will bless you. Church attendance dwindles as commitments vie for our time and as the benefits of a cultural Christian nominalism wane. Meanwhile, decades of a church culture that insisted that theology didn’t matter have left the Christians who remain ill prepared to engage the changing culture.
Meanwhile, the Southeast is rapidly growing. 14 of the 20 fastest growing metro areas in the nation between 2010 and 2015 were in the South. That boom has not been driven by heavy industry, but by banking, insurance, healthcare, and technology. And that trend doesn’t look to be slowing down. The Southeast is rapidly growing.
With this growth and change, comes a significant cultural polarization. The conservative rural landscape is dotted with progressive cities both ruled by a form of secularism tailored to its context. The Southeast is rapidly polarizing.
However, this is not a time to retreat. With these challenges comes tremendous opportunity for the Church to advance.
Advance the Church 2016 is an Acts 29 Southeast conference for leaders to be encouraged by the gospel of Jesus so we can plant and lead healthy church-planting churches across the Southeast.
The same gospel that gives us hope to advance the church in the Southeast must also shape our vision, preaching, planning and mission. All must be gospel shaped or we will not make a dent in the growing number of dechurched and unchurched people in the Southeast.
We should be hopeful as we engage our changing context. We preach a gospel that will accomplish all that God intends. We are part of the Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against her advance. Now is a time for courage and hope. Now is the time for the Church to advance.