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October 9, 2009

Twenty-One Things the World Will Say About Christians

Lauren Winner shares her vision during the Christianity21 conference.

Friends, I'm up late in a hotel room writing what is too good not to share, just like any good live-blogger does. Day One of the Christianity21 conference in Minneapolis has been full of provocative ideas, revelations, and creativity. I spent the chilly afternoon sipping Peace Coffee (I stepped on an ICE patch in the parking lot, thank you very much), listening to 21-minute sessions, and limping under the weight of my computer bag as I interviewed greats like Phyllis Tickle and Mimi Haddad (more reasons to stay tuned to Kyria in the months ahead!). While I can't describe every way the Lord is working in one late-night blog post, I'd like to share Lauren Winner's 21 characteristics that - if we all are faithful now - the world will say about Christians by the end of this century. In other words, she hopes that the average person on the street in the year 2092 might think of these qualities when asked what Christians are like.

By the end of the 21st century, Christians will...
1. Be peacemakers.
2. Be expected to be the first ones to show up when disaster strikes.
3. Rest, because they know they're not the ones in charge.
4. While resting, reconfigure their work.
5. Live well in their bodies, whether by their diet, their sex lives, or the clothes they wear.
6. Practice boredom. They will not succumb to the "fetish of the new or the cult of novelty" when it comes to their faith.

7. Be truth-tellers, even if the answer is "I don't know." Even "authenticity" and confession can be a pose.
8. Practice silence in small and big ways, including in solitude.
9. Live in communities where everyone has access to power, and everyone can and will share it with others.
10. Live in communities where women can do anything.
11. Go to church with the people they live near.
12. Persist in making Kingdom demands. This means taking the same request to God, over and over!
13. When we think about God, we think about what needs to change next. This is largely informed by Tozer: what we think about when we think about God is the most important thing about ourselves.
14. Eat fewer strawberries. We will tread lightly on the planet and not risk the energy and harm to our planet just so we can have strawberries in January.
15. See ourselves as small characters in a larger story. As Winner's colleagues at Duke suggest, a "saint" can fail in a way that a "hero" cannot, which opens the doors to ideas like forgiveness and new possibilities of God.
16. Lament. ("We don't do this well. Jews do it a bit better.")
17. Throw good parties. Afterall, we're here to practice for the heavenly banquet!
18. Not gossip. This means talking about someone who is not present. Period.
19. Have unity without obliterating diversity, and that's because of the Trinity.
20. Understand something about grace (despite our 19 wonderful attributes above).
21. Describe reality and the spiritual sacraments in such a way as to "make mouths water and hearts hunger."

Many thanks to Lauren Winner for these prophetic words and for her friendship with Kyria's blog for women leaders, Gifted for Leadership. To hear more about the Christianity21 conference, follow @KyriaDigital on Twitter and search for the tag #c21.

So what do you think? Do you also hope for these 21 characteristics? Are we on the right track to Winner's 22nd century? How is God already at work causing these things to pass? Which one do you think we're closest to "getting" now?

Related Tags: Social justice, Spiritual Disciplines


No gossip and unity WITH diversity are top of my list!


Awsome web page, looking forward to hearing more from you!:)

Fabulous! More to think about and to put into practice. I will pass this on. Thanks to YOU!

a list where nothing is crossed off but a perpetual "to-do." I hope :-)

Enneagrams? Mysticism and communist principles? Shame on all of you for calling yourselves Christians! This is not Biblical Christianity. Read the Bible!

Wow.... Be truth tellers and understand something about GRACE are my favourites. Grace helps to fulfil the rest!

... Sounds like what Jesus just might be doing if he was here in the flesh in 2009! Thankfully, He is here in the Spirit, and will enable us to live and respond and be just like Him!

I would like Greg to explain what he meant by his comment, please.

Sorry I read the posting wrong, I think it was Jay that I would like to explain his comment, please.

Excelent qualities for Christians of ...the ,, end of this century"...
As the history unfolds and the signs are pointing to His Coming, I beleive these are wonderful qualities for the Christians of the Kingdom. No need for parties as we will Supper with the King. Instead of ballons we will have stars and the sweetest music...Isn't it exciting, dear princesses? I sure look forward to it. Hope this event will not interfere our plans but it will be THE BEST mOST EXPECTED . Pray to meet you'all there, only by his Grace.

Is This a Serious list? I am AMAZED that you really put things like "not eating strawberries" as something you want to be remembered for...as a Christian? This is sad. That's all I can say. Really Sad. And "live where all have equal access to power"? I'm sorry, but please don't include me in on this women's list. No Thank you

I too am amazed by the shallowness of the list. It would seem that what Christians should want to be KNOWN for is being lactually doing what Jesus told us to do,

I have to say while much of the list might be 'mindful' ways to live, Jesus isn't mentioned anywhere. Much more 'politically correct' than Christian. And, I am not 'demanding' anything of God!

A lot of you are questioning Winner's list saying these are things Jesus didn't do and Christians shouldn't focus on. In fact, Jesus practiced many of these things: silence, living peacefully, living justly, celebrating, just to name a few. The emphasis on justice is a biblical theme; it is not merely "political activism." Micah 6:8 tells us that following God means living justly: loving and serving the poor, the destitute, those on the margins, caring for our earth as good stewards of what God has given us.

The only "beef" I have with this list is I think it's almost perfection. I don't know if we'll ever reach these ideals, but it's something to aim for as Christians and leaders in the Church and the world. Thanks for sharing this list, Hollie.

Actually, I think Jesus is present in all of these because they reflect his character and can be found in Scripture.

For example, the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 tell us “blessed are the peacemakers.” Living and sharing in community with other believers is idealized in Acts 2. The equality of men and women is affirmed in Galatians 3. Persistence in prayer is something Jesus practiced throughout his ministry. Stewardship for God’s creation is found everywhere from Genesis to Leviticus to Revelation. Social justice is in Proverbs 31, Micah 6, Luke 4 and so many others. This isn’t an exhaustive defense but I think that Scripture affirms – whether you want to clothespin single verses like I just did or look across the whole story – that the items in this list are godly.

I’m also concerned that some people are interpreting this politically and are thus applying some fallacious logic. To categorize this as left or right, blue or red, is to take the focus off of where it belongs – on the character and desires of God. Please do not confuse an environmental ethic of stewardship or care for the poor with a slippery slope to liberalism. Please do not disparage political correctness to such a degree that anything under its umbrella becomes insupportable. Instead, let’s be the sort of 21st century Christians that God asks all people to be: loving, obedient, generous.

Well said, Bonnie. The paranoia and fear of political agenda can easily distract us from the truth of God's character and what it means to be his children. I'm convinced that such a distraction is a tool of the evil one.

Let us not take our eyes of the Person of Christ--and all that believing on Him entails.

Hmmm- where women can do anything? Even be ministers? Even marry other women? Even divorce? No thanks. Keep your liberal utopia.

what is with the strawberry comment??

The strawberry comment is a metaphor for being responsible stewards in regard to our production and consumption of food - eating foods grown locally and relying less on imports, eating foods in season, etc.

I agree with Lois. Are we to take this list SERIOUSLY? It has absolutely no merit. It's sounds like a parody from Letterman's "10 most list" or a skit from Saturday Night Live. No wonder Christians and the church are going to hell in a hanging basket.

Will you elaborate a bit on this image of 'going to hell in a hanging basket'? I find it really evocative, it's just a bit unclear. And are you a Christian?

The first thing it means is that we need to engage in new and creative thinking about Christian political responsibility. This transition moment in human history offers Christians a tremendous opportunity to pray and work together in new ways for new political understanding, for an understanding that will allow us to become more faithful witnesses in politics to the God who rules the world through Jesus Christ.

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