A Peculiar People

January 15th, 2014 | John Chandler

As I was preparing for last Sunday’s sermon on liturgy, I found myself pulled back to a book I first read ten years ago: "A Peculiar People," by Rodney Clapp. While they title itself may be, um, peculiar, the subtitle helps give an understanding of what the book is about: The Church as Culture in a Post-Christian Society.

This was a book that has influenced my thinking a great deal, and in looking back at it, I see my notes and underlines that were some of the initial ideas that helped the dream of Austin Mustard Seed to germinate. As a church community, we are settling ourselves into a time and place that resonates with the post-Christian society that the author describes. For many, the church is considered to be either quaint or irrelevant, depending on how polite they are feeling. It is an after thought, if it is even a thought at all.

Rodney Clapp wrote this book almost twenty years ago (and I think it still has the same cover art). He describes Christianity is migrating from the center to the fringe of our culture, and it is as true in North Central Austin as it is anywhere. He suggests new ways for the church to think about itself in relationship to the culture around it, and I think many of his thoughts were right on. If you are the reading type, I will never be short of book suggestions. If you’re the reading type who is curious about the future of the church in North America, and of Austin Mustard Seed, this will be one of my first suggestions.