Photo by Lidya Nada on Unsplash

One of the personal highlights of our LAUNCH events over the years for me has been to learn so much from our friend Dr James Emery White, founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. His writing and speaking ministry never shies from the tough stuff as he explores the intersection of faith and culture. This year will prove to be perhaps the most important for many of us there as I have asked him to brings us thoughts from his brand new and incredibly timely and insightful book, Hybrid Church.

I’ll probably blog a few more thoughts from this very rich though accessible resource, but really I don’t want to spoil it. Come and hear James yourself this Autumn – and do buy the book! 

To whet your appetite, to locate the present landscape after a brief historical and philosophical sketch from through the founding and floundering of Christendom James describes our world in the west as post-Christian, defining its prevailing mindset as having four marks, which I’ve tried to sum up here with a one line phrase. 


‘True – for you, not for me’ 

In this mindset what is moral is a matter of personal choice located in the individual rather than anything external and certainly not by anything transcendent. Our choices he says, are “dictated by a particular situation in a particular culture or social location.”[1] In other words, situational ethics. 

This got me thinking that the word morals actually comes from the Greek mores (from which we get Mori polls etc), in other words you do your morality based on counting how many people at a particular time think something is right or wrong so it’s a poll or percentage game. How often are we told ‘Most Brits said they think this or that about climate change/ whatever issue,’ as if crowds are infallible. The word ethics however has a root in an equine word to do with putting a particular horse in a particular stable. Some things are actually right or wrong and we have clear categories for that. Anyone remember that? 

This leads to a culture adrift – there are no values.


‘I want to be free…’ 

Defining freedom as independence and emancipation from authority. I am what I am, I choose my own path and I don’t have to be accountable to anyone else for that. 

He notes that this is the key to understand heresy, in that the root word (hairesis) behind that is ‘choice’ – I choose what’s true for me, what works for me now, regardless of what any God, scripture or tradition may have mandated. 

This leads to a culture in despair – there’s nothing beyond us. 


‘It’s all about me…’

This describes the self focused, self obsessed, self devoted drive that puts my own pleasure and peace, affluence and fulfilment front and centre in every decision, every moment. 

The question is not whether anything is right or wrong, true or false, but ‘Does it help me live my best life and tell the world on social media about my best self now?’

This leads to a soulless culture– never satisfied.


‘Trust the science…’ 

Which informs us that life is an accident, nothing beyond or outside of ourselves will bring the answers we need, and only that which we can observe, test, or empirically demonstrate matters.

Today’s scientism is a hubristic belief system implacably hostile to religion, though true science embraces mystery with humility. 

Scientism wants to rid the supernatural idea from the universe, starting with our minds. However the fact that this transcendent urge is inbuilt and hardwired in all of us (see Romans 1) means that suppressing the self-evident truth of God as Creator will lead many not to the empty void of atheism but instead may account for the upsurge in our time of occult interest, beliefs and practices.

This leads to a frustrated culture – because we can’t work the way we were made to, without our Maker. 

Jim quotes the historian Christian Dawson to sum up our reality;

“The society of culture that has lost its spiritual roots is a dying culture… however prosperous it may appear externally.”

I find the book fascinating in putting the finger on the pulse of so much of our reality to diagnose, as well as intensely practical as James always proves to be when asking the ‘So what do we do?’ questions that the church must find right now if it is to have a vital future. 

I am delighted that James will once again join us at LAUNCH this year to bring keynotes and seminar input both North and South. Every year delegates give us feedback to say his insights have opened minds, given hope, strategies and roadmaps for the way ahead in a world he describes as post-Christian, which I think in view of his last point I might even go further and describe as headed toward neo-pagan. 

Please book now for LAUNCH if you can, none of us want to have to wrestle these issues alone! 

[1] Hybrid Church – Rethinking the Christian Church for a Post-Christian Digital Age. Dr James Emery White. Zondervan 2023