Ministry Leaders and Local Church Volunteers:
Our belief systems have been radically challenged by a changing culture in the past ten years. This time of cultural shift is not new nor is it the end of the church age as some would speculate. It is however, a time when the church must be at its best and empowered by the Holy Spirit to meet these cultural changes.
It is our duty as Christians to remember our mission and stay on the task at hand while addressing the cultural issues that are prevalent and understanding our audience in today's world.
A Preaching in a Secular Culture
by Tim Keller
Four Reminders to Never Forget
1. PREACH TO CHRISTIANS AND NON-CHRISTIANS AT THE SAME TIME
Because the gospel is the root of both justification and sanctification.
The typical approach to the gospel is to see it as the ABC’s of Christian doctrine, or merely the minimum truth required to be saved, but to rely on more “advanced” biblical principles for progress in the Christian life. If that were the case, then we truly could not focus on both evangelism and spiritual formation at the same time. However, Martin Luther understood that the gospel is not only the way we receive salvation but is also the way to advance at every stage in the Christian life. This is why the first of Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses was “All of life is repentance.”
Jonathan Edwards, in his Religious Affections, argues that belief and behavior are inextricably linked and that any failures in Christians are due to unbelief. The antidote to unbelief is a fresh telling of the gospel. Preaching, therefore, is not either for evangelism or edification, because all of us have the same underlying problem.
2. PREACH GRACE, NOT MORALISM
My sermons used to follow this approach:
Here is what the text says
Here is how we must live in light of that text
Now go and live that way, and God will help you.
I came to realize over time that I was doing exactly what Edwards said would not work. I was relying on fear and pride to prompt obedience to God. Although I was doing it indirectly and unconsciously, I was employing preaching to trick the heart instead of reorienting the heart.
I have come to realize that my sermons need to follow a different outline:
Here is what the text says
Here is how we must live in light of it
But we simply cannot do it
Ah—but there is One who did!
Now, through faith in him, you can begin to live this way.
3. PREACH CHRIST FROM EVERY TEXT
There are, in the end, only two ways to read the Bible: It is either about me or about Jesus. It is either advice to the listener or news from the Lord. It is either about what I must do or about what God has done.
Jesus is the true temple, the true prophet, the true priest, the true king, the true sacrifice, the Lamb, the Light, the Bread. The Bible is not about you—it is about him.
4. AIM AT THE HEART (NOT THE EMOTIONS, OR EVEN THE MIND)
We must not assume, for example, if our listeners are materialistic that they only need to be exhorted to give more. Though guilt may help with the day’s offering, it will not alter one’s life patterns. If people are materialistic and ungenerous, it means they have not truly understood how Jesus, though rich, became poor for them. They have not truly understood what it means to have all riches and treasures in Jesus Christ. It means their affections are causing them to cling to material riches as a source of security, hope, and beauty.
Thus in preaching we must present Christ in the particular way that he replaces the hold of competing affections. This takes not just intellectual argument but the presentation of the beauty of Christ. Jonathan Edwards defined a nominal Christian as one who finds Christ useful, while a true Christian is one who finds Christ beautiful for who he is in himself.
One Thing.... For Revival to Occur
by Kevin Smith
If we desire to be usable by God in seeing men and women changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ, let us:
Let us commit to models of church revitalization (and church planting) that reflect the Spirit-filled examples of the New Testament. The calling of different types of Jews (Acts 2:5-11), the inclusion of Gentiles into the Church (Acts 10:34-35), and the clear statements about the social/ethnic-breadth of the gospel (Romans 1:16) should influence all we think/do as it regards congregational worship, discipleship, outreach, and service.
Let us be willing to be repent and be corrected by the rebukes and encouragements in the New Testament that address the unity/disunity of Christ’s followers. The letter to the Corinthians, for example, addresses various types of divisions among Christ-followers that undermine the testimony of the gospel and hinder those types of congregations from being used by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:33).
Let us prioritize the pursuit of Christian unity as consistent with the command of scripture (Ephesians 4:1-3) and the burden of Jesus’ prayer to the Father in John 17. Part of the believer’s growing in godliness is in a growth in one’s desire to obey the commands of God. Parts of His commands in scripture address how we relate to people that are different from us. Also, as we seek to “follow” our Lord, we must be moved by his passionate prayer to His Father that His people would be one.
So, when you seek, desire, work, and pray for revival and revitalization, make sure your (biblically-informed) imagination is open to the Holy Spirit doing that work in, and around, your congregation by involving and moving upon different types and kinds of people – who all need to be changed by the grace of God extended to all kinds of sinners, in our Lord, Jesus Christ.
A Church of Many Cultures
by Dr. Bob Whitesel.
The following is an excerpt of a chapter from Whitesel's new book The Healthy Church: Practical Ways to Strengthen a Church's Heart where he thoroughly evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of each model.
Though the term multi-ethnic church is often used today, researchers prefer the term "multicultural," because culture is a more accurate way to describe people who share similar behaviors, ideas, fashion, literature, music, etc.
- Behaviors are the way we act,
- Ideas are the way we think, and
- Products are the things we create such as fashion, literature, music, etc.
Multicultural or Multiethnic Church?
So, what should we call a church that reaches multiple groups of people? And what should we call a neighborhood that has Guatemalan Hispanics, Mexican Hispanics, aging Lutherans and a growing base of young Anglo professional? The accurate answer is a multicultural neighborhood. And, such a mosaic of cultures should give rise to a multicultural church. Below are examples of groups that have been identified as justifiable cultures:
- Motorcycle riders
- Country music fans
- The NASCAR nation
- Heavy metal music fans
- Contemporary Christian music fans
- Latin American,
- Hispanic American
- African American,
- Asian American
- Native American, etc.
Therefore, to help our churches grow in the most ways possible while recognizing the broadest variety of cultures, it is good to speak of multicultural churches. These are churches where people from several cultures (e.g. ethnic, affinity, etc.) learn to work together in one church.
- Builder (or the Silent or Greatest) Generation, b. 1945 and before
- Boomer Generation, b. 1946-1964
- Leading-edge Generation X, b. 1965-1974
- Post-modern Generation X, b. 1975-1983
- Generation Y, b. 1984-2002
5 Types of Multi-Cultural (Mosaic) Churches
The Multicultural Alliance Church
This church is an alliance of several culturally different sub-congregations. The different cultures thus form an alliance by joining together as one religious organization in which they equally:
The Multicultural Partnership Church
- Share leadership duties
- Share assets
- Offer separate worship expressions
- Offer blended worship expressions
Here a congregation, usually in a more affluent position, partners with a church in a financially struggling culture to help the latter. This often occurs when a church in a growing suburb partners to help one or more struggling urban congregations.
The Multicultural Mother-Daughter Church
This may be the most prevalent model in North America. Here a mother church launches (or plants) a daughter congregation that is intended to become self-sufficient. The daughter is usually a different culture than the mother church. For example, an Anglo mother church might launch a Hispanic Church, a Hip-Hop Church, an African-American church, etc.
The Multicultural Blended Church
The Blended Church may be the second most common type of multicultural church. Most of its worship celebrations blend or mix several different cultural styles of music and liturgy. …The idea is to celebrate varied cultures in one worship service. …People from emerging cultures usually adapt to the dominant culture in one of three ways.
Not surprisingly, the Multicultural Blended Church usually attracts those who are selective adapters.
- Consonant adapters are people from an emerging culture who adapt almost entirely to the dominant culture. Over time they will mirror the dominant culture in behavior, ideas and products.
- Selective adapters adapt to some parts of a dominant culture, but reject other aspects. They can be drawn to the Blended Model because it still celebrates to a degree their culture.
- Dissonant adapters fight to preserve their culture in the face of a dominant culture's influence.
The Cultural Assimilation Church
This is actually not a multicultural church. This is the church where a dominant culture tries to make over other cultures in its image.
There are churches in North American who embrace the assimilation model today in hairstyles, clothing styles, music, etc. They believe that newcomers will mature quicker in their faith if they adopt the congregation's pre-existing traditions.
But theologians cry foul, with one stating: "The New Testament precedents strongly asserted that the gospel was not indented to make Gentiles more Jewish, and Jewish more Gentile, but rather that each culture was to maintain its integrity in the body of Christ."
These five types of multi-cultural churches can provide a framework through which the church must begin to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each.
FREE MINISTRY RESOURCE
This month's resource is
LINK TO FREE RESOURCE ebook, Hack Your Christianity
titled, Hack Your Christianity
by Shawn Nelson.
In the past two decades we have seen how technology has made everything more
efficient. The point of this book is that it’s time to use technology to help improve our Christianity. This book contains ideas on how we can do this.
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