I Chronicles 29:11 "Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty:for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all."

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Cultural Relevance Revisited

The other day I wrote a post about Cultural Relevance. One person whom I respect greatly brought up the issue of being all things to all men that Paul mentions in the book of I Corinthians. This is an interesting thing to say, and an important point to address. We want to reach as many people with the Gospel as possible, right? I agree. And they will not all be reached the same way.

But how ought we to go about being all things to all men?

I am going to say something that may anger you. But hopefully it will just result in a little more self-examination, as it has for me.

Is it possible that the church (and by 'the church' I mean the group of believers who gather to receive encouragement and edification from the Word of God on a weekly basis, not individual Christians in general) has had to become all things to all men because we, as individual Christians are not as effective in our personal evangelism?

How many of us actually take the time to go out into the 'highways and byways' to reach those who may have heard of Christ, but have no hope of ever getting out of their current situations on their own? How many of us actually know our neighbors and are there to minister to needs they might have? How many times a week are we even in close enough contact to make an impact in the life of someone who may not know Christ?

Churches nowadays host so many activities and things geared to keeping Christians together and that are aimed to keep our kids out of the world, that many of us have little contact with lost people. And how many of the events our churches host that are supposed to be evangelistic actually have lost people attending?

Is this an accurate train of thought?

When I lived in America, I was not in a position to be around lost people unless I specifically sought them out. I didn't work outside my home. My kids didn't go to public school. We traveled on deputation, so we were in church constantly and surrounded by Christians. My kids never had anyone they could invite to visitor day in AWANA because family were all out of state, and we didn't know anyone outside our church.

Am I alone in this? Or is it more common than just me?

My point in all this is that if we, as individual Christians, don't make the effort to reach people for Christ, then the church will have to take up the slack. Suddenly churches are catering to "seeker sensitive" needs rather than building up the Body of Christ. The Bible says there are none that seek after God, so catering to the needs of the lost when the Christians are supposed to be fed doesn't really fulfill the purpose of the church.

When I come to church, I want to be challenged. I want to learn something that maybe I haven't thought of before. I want to be convicted of my sin. Hearing the Gospel at church is important, but to have every sermon in every service geared towards those who may not know Christ and are still only ready for 'milk', or have the worship service minister more to a worldly mindset, does not minister to the Body.

In Paul's time, he traveled everywhere to reach people with the Gospel. He was not your average Christian. However, they did not make changes in the services at the Temple to reach people who 'might be interested in religion'. I don't think that the early church was established with the idea that they had to make church 'comfortable' for those who may not be ready or willing to hear truth.

The early church was already full of new believers, and they took care of each other. They met each others needs, they encouraged each other in their walk with Christ, and they supported one another during persecution. They also reached out to orphans, widows, and were extremely (what would be considered that way now at least) radical in their evangelism. They didn't wait for people to show up in church and then try to minister to and entertain them in that slotted hour and a half.

I guess my point is that we must be all things to all men in our personal evangelism, and let the church minister to and encourage those who are already Believers. Yes, we need to be prepared for the fact that lost people will come to our churches. We should want them there! But in most cases, they won't come until someone (meaning a Christian) has invested in their lives to the point they want to know more.

Like someone way smarter than me said: "People won't care how much you know, until they know how much you care."

Meaning, if we show people how much we care for them (because Christ first loved and cared for us) then they will want to know more about the Bible, and God's plan for people. We must individually be willing to be all things to all men to reach the lost. Then they can come to church to learn more about God's Word and be encouraged to serve Him faithfully.

Does that make any sense?


  • Janice

    Julie, You hit the nail on the head.

    I am with you in all points of this post! I have learned that unless I intentionally take advantage of the opportunities while "in the world" to witness: ie at the store, getting gas, garage saleing etc.-that I do not have a lot of contact with lost people.

    I DO work outside the home, and while I have contact with lost co workers, I can only say so much to them before they begin to tune me out, and I have to Live as Christ in front of them- hard to do as well!!!

    Oh I should just send you an email before this becomes a letter in and of itself! Cannot WAIT to share a beverage (cold for you-chai for me!) with you and chat over stuff like this!!!!!! MISS YOU!!!

  • JulieMom

    Cool Jan! Sounds like a date. :0) I am interested in seeing how much bigger Savannah is than my kids, since when Dan came last time he said she was at least as tall as Tina!

    I appreciate your comment. And if it's Oh-My-Chai, you can count me in!

  • Hindsey

    Hey, Julie, great post again - like the last one. I'm very much in agreement with you. I've started to write a comment like 12 times, and have scrapped each of them because they were getting too long each time. So, I think I'll just blog on it next week some time, and take it from there!

    And I feel out of the loop with all this Chai stuff -- sounds too relevant for me :)

  • Herding Grasshoppers


    You said, "We want to reach as many people with the Gospel as possible, right? I agree. And they will not all be reached the same way."

    But, as you said, we may reach them different ways, but need to reach them with the same thing - the gospel.

    I think we - speaking in the broadest sense of "we" - can easily get all distracted with methods and styles and being relevant (hence, the Purpose Drivel Church) and focus so much on all that (entertainment) that we forget that what people need is Jesus. They need the Gospel.

    Jesus died and rose again to give us a whole lot more than a rockin' worship band and a hip tattoo.

    Personally, I'm with you. I believe that the church service should be primarily for building up the believers, as opposed to sinner sensitive. But the interesting thing is, when God's Word is preached, there's food for everyone. His Word won't return void. He promised.

    But you're right. People aren't likely to just walk into a church, cold. That's where we come in :D

    Living in the real world. Making friends with our neighbors and co-workers.

    I love 2 Cor 2:16, "To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?"

    When we do live a Christ-like life, we are a fragrance. Yes, some have rejected Christ, and 'smell' their own death and judgment. But to many, it is a fragrance of life. People will be attracted, like bees to nectar.

    Sorry for the long rant!

    Good to meet you, Juliemom :D

    the other Julie

  • JulieMom

    Hindsey- I will look forward to reading your post, as I am sure you have something excellent to say. And just FYI, chai is as relevant as it gets in the tea world!

    The Other Julie- Feel free to rant here any time! :0) Glad you popped in again. Great thoughts!

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