How to Flourish as a Creative Minority

An Orthodox Jew advises American evangelicals on how to keep—and pass on—the faith in an increasingly pagan culture.

Consider this a dispatch from my neighborhood to yours. Christianity Today doesn’t typically publish Orthodox Jewish writers, so you might consider me a distant cousin, writing in an effort to understand and encourage American evangelicals as they adjust to a dominant culture that is increasingly postmodern and even pagan. While Jews see this era as but another chapter in a long journey, many American evangelicals seem to have lost their ballast—and with it, the cohesion and vision necessary to flourish as a minority.

What can this distant cousin offer? Let me take you on a tour of my community. Anchored by the rules of Shabbat (Sabbath), we live one day a week (plus major holidays) as if we were, as one visiting pastor friend remarked, “from the 1950s,” before automobiles, television, and apps came to dominate daily life.

Streets fill with people walking—to a neighbor’s house, a park, a prayer service, a celebration—and we encounter many familiar faces and get caught up in conversations along the way. Weekly life is sustained day in and day out by a strong set of place-based institutions working in tandem—schools, synagogues, restaurants, charities, and interfamily networks—together creating a string of close-knit communities across the country.

How is this different from what CT readers most likely observe and experience in their daily rhythms? Socialized to believe that their culture was the majority, it seems Christians have invested much less than Orthodox Jews in four key elements of faithful living required to thrive as a minority: educating children separately from the broader society, marking space and time to bolster community cohesion, …

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