As I mentioned in an earlier post, the approach of Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost in the Missio Intensive conference and in their book is that the church has already failed to reach people in our culture. I understand why they have come to this conclusion based on their experiences in Australia. As Frost points out, the first settlers in America came to seek religious freedom and by choice (although we must admit that the promise of commerce motivated many). In Australia, the first "settlers" were mostly Irish convicts who did not choose to travel to the other side of the world. Their "chaplains" were Anglican priests who were also the magistrates who pronounced judgement on trangressors! The basis of the cultures was very different.
At the same time, I realize that we are faced with both a secular culture (is there any other?)in the US as well as rapid and discontinous change. Most people are not antagonistic the church; they are indifferent to the church! Even in the South, Christian churches are no longer respected as they once were.
The approach that Hirsch and Frost have adopted is radical. They call for a change from an attractional to an incarnational approach to penetrate niche communities of non-believers. They have basically "written off" the established churches as effective means to reach people for Christ.
They may be right! I believe that there are places in our state where this will work, especially in urban areas; however, I still hold out hope that many of our established churches can refocus themselves as missional churches--churches on mission in their context. This is something to which I am committed, and I am attempting to lead our organization to help churches make that transition.