Not Rocket Science! Part II A ‘Post Billy Graham’ World

Here we go… I’m going to flesh out my thoughts on this in about 7 posts over the next week or so.

Let’s start with the question “Why call it ‘post-christian’?”

The other common term which seems to have lost some of its bite lately is ‘post-modern’, a term that is broader than post-christian and more about whole worldviews – but that’s another story… I prefer post-christian because it is specific and easy to grasp.

Quick quiz: What was the largest crowd ever at the Melbourne Cricket Ground?

Answer: Around 130 000 for the 1959 Billy Graham crusade…

In 1959 Billy packed them in all round Oz and many of those present were not Christians. However they were people for whom Christianity was ‘hard-wired’ into the psyche. We were a ‘Christian country’, the kids went to Sunday school, Christian values dominated and it was also very early days for immigration so we hadn’t been ‘multi-culturalised’. There was one religious flavour and within that there were two choices – heaven or hell.

So when Billy offered ‘heaven’ to people it was an easy choice. Few were aware of any other religious options (I am generalising here) so it was better to be on the right side of God than the wrong.

In his book The Shark Net, Aussie author Robert Drewe has a whole chapter simply entitled ‘Billy Graham’ where he describes the Perth event. He concludes with the somewhat tongue in cheek phrase ‘people were having conversions all around me’.

billy.jpg That was 1959… wind the clock forward to 1994…

It was the Billy Graham crusade by satellite link up. I was part of a church that wanted to be involved although personally I wasn’t interested. We booked the local high school gym – and packed it out – with Christians… There were a few ‘de-churched’ people present, but raw ‘couldn’t give a rats’ Aussie pagans were hard to find.

I imagine if Billy Graham came to the MCG today he’d pull a Pura Shield Cricket crowd, but even then the dominant make up of that 4000 strong crowd would be believers out for a nostalgia trip.

We are no longer the only show in town and people are checking out the competition! Did you know that in the last census 70 000 Australians registered their religion as ‘Jedi night’ or some variation thereof?!

You can now choose from a vast religious smorgasbord some of which has much greater appeal and less demand than the discipleship Jesus would be seeking.

The party’s over for Christendom!! Evangelistic rallys and door-knocking are things of the past and we need to be creatively thinking about ways to engage the world as we find it today.

We need to re-visit exactly what the gospel is and then learn how to share our story in the marketplace in ways that are both genuine and appealing.

(Before someone crucifies me I should add that I would regard Billy Graham as one of the great Christian leaders of the mid to late 20th century)

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