Vol. 2, Issue 10
Produced by CE National
In the February issue of Pastorpedia, pastors Jeff Bogue, Knute Larson, and Jim Brown talk about leading in a changing culture.
Leading in a Changing Culture
Jesus is indeed “the same….
…yesterday, today, and forever,” as the Hebrews writer said. But we surely have changed.
And not always for the better.
So how do we lead and pastor and serve and love in this changing place called earth?
And in our changing church culture?
And is it really true that if we do not change we get left behind, or something like that? And behind what?
So here we try to address such questions, admitting a lot of changes are really good, and some are not. Which is brilliant for me to say, I know!
Glad to be part of your monthly reading and watching—check the video!—and to be on the CE National team!
Knute, with Jim and Jeff
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What has changed in our lifetime?
The manner in which the “heart of man” is exposed and presented has changed in our lifetime and changes in everyone’s lifetime.
- One of the greatest changes in my lifetime has been the technology revolution, so the sinfulness of man is much easier to understand and see then it was previously.
- The creativity and ingenuity of humanity is much easier to see and understand.
- What people consider immoral and moral has shifted, so in my lifetime it used to be immoral to practice homosexual behavior and moral to oppose it—and in my lifetime, that has flip-flopped.
Involvement in the church:
- The new norm has become: Two weekends a month. If I go to church every other week, then I am a deeply committed part of the local church.
The acceptance of the authority of Scripture:
Often, sound doctrine and solid theology are considered someone’s opinion. The Bible’s authority has largely been disregarded. Individual opinion is regarded as truth, therefore the scripture is received to the degree it is agreed with by the individual.
Evangelism methods have change dramatically:
It used to be that if you invited Petra or Jeff Moore and The Distance to your church that was a fantastic outreach to teenagers. Now Christian teenagers don’t even like Christian music. 🙂 Evangelism is almost exclusively relational.
- Technology’s ability to touch the other side of the world with the touch of the keyboard.
- The pace of life and need to keep up has pushed the value of family out.
- Impersonal reality of relationship—social media has alienated us from face-to-face relationships.
- The traditional view on marriage and the pressure of the local church to be forced to accept this.
- We no longer fix anything. It is a “toss it away and buy a new one.” This has infiltrated the marriage vows too, where many just get a new one instead of fixing it!
- The prolific ways to listen to preaching and how it has people “doing church.” Podcast, nature, drive through mentality has less people attending church regularly.
- The incessant drive to live vicariously through our children.
- Probably you too. My own views on social and cultural practices have improved in many ways. I no longer believe what my third grade Sunday school teacher said, “If I am in a movie when Jesus returns, I will be left behind.” I was scared to death coming out of “King Kong”! (Or that pre-marital sex was wrong because it could lead to dancing! That one was not taught.)
But my connections with so many wrongs (news media, TV, people stories, pastoral involvement) have probably made me less sensitive to sin. Some things do not bother me—may I include you?—as much as they should.
And that is very true in our churches.
- Communications, communications, communications. People have seen everything, and some of it while it happens around the world. They are full of news and facts. And ads and pictures. And tweets and updates.
We best work really hard to communicate from the church and the pulpit.
- Church habits. What once was the social center of a family’s life is now an afterthought for some, or at least an irregular habit.
And this includes the number of hours or projects even the very involved people can contribute to the church.
- Many are more superficial and earthly.
- It grows and grows as we see more games being played with words, more empty promises even by preachers, and more junk everywhere. It may be the biggest danger for many of us. Me for sure.
What has changed since the church letters in the NT were written?
Nothing and everything.
Of course everything with science and culture has changed: We now have light bulbs and computers and indoor plumbing, but the heart of man has not changed at all. In the New Testament, if you wanted to commit adultery you would go to the temple prostitutes…
Now you just open up your computer screen.
In the New Testament, if you wanted to be materialistic you may sell a field and not give all of it to the Lord, but take credit for it….
Now you may make a high-end salary and only tithe 5% and take credit for being a big giver.
In the New Testament, Paul and others had to take missionary journeys to proclaim the gospel…
Today we can jump on the internet and bypass every man-made obstacle. The ability to advance the gospel is greater today than ever!! And sinners still need to know there is a loving Savior!
So, the heart of man is consistent and the truth of God is consistent.
The leaders of the church need to continue to address the heart of man and to use changing mechanisms of a culture to proclaim the gospel in new and relevant ways.
- Truth be told, sin is still sin. We have just found new creative and more public ways to sin.
- Modern conveniences and the ways we can travel the world and back in a few days.
- The role of women in the local church has changed and is a hotly debated subject.
- The prolific number of Conferences and para-church organizations.
- A largely irrelevant church that often caters to the needs of people instead of the truths of God’s Word.
- The unfamiliarity and understanding of the Bible. We no longer know the Bible—it has become just another book instead of our go-to resource.
- All of the above.
- Not our sinful practices. Our junk-in-the-heart is identical to that in the Corinthian Grace Church and Laodicea too. Meaning the Word from our Lord called the Bible is just as relevant and needed today.
- Certainly the view of many church leaders and followers as to the inspiration and especially the authority of the Bible. How many times have I heard, “I know the Bible says that but….”
And I know they did that in AD 68 also, but I do not think it was as prevalent in the church.
- Seems like we have a few more!
- Not our Lord himself, but certainly some of the ways He manifests himself regularly. Surely God still heals and converts, but some of the NT incidents are wow!
- The huge difference between generations. Most did not even live long enough to be Builders or Boomers then! And the Millenials then were probably the ones who knew there would be a Millenium.
What are our options?
Resent change or embrace opportunity:
We should never be afraid of change. For every new sinful behavior that change can expose, it also opens up new doorways for us to proclaim the gospel. Just as the internet is powerful to bring sin into your home, the internet is also powerful to bring the gospel into places where it would not otherwise be welcome.
The issue, of course, is never the mechanism. The issue is the heart of man, and instead of complaining that people play on their phones, tweet, or read Facebook while we’re preaching the servant of God needs to find ways to engage that very technology to bring the gospel of God in front of them. Instead of complaining, for instance, that teenagers are always on their phones, remember that it means you can interact with them all day every day. It’s kind of like training them when they get up, when they walk along the way, and when they go to bed.
So, with every change is an opportunity and a challenge, and we ought to embrace the opportunity for the cause of the gospel.
- We must stay relevant yet always speak truth. I have found that we have so many people hungry for someone to tell them the truth!
- Live out your faith in a fresh, life-giving, passionate way! A transformed life is the greatest influence we have to offer because it points people to Jesus.
- Pray and ask God to heal our land.
- I actually believe more than ever the local church has an incredible opportunity to offer hope to a lost-tired-busy world. I am more excited about the local church then I have ever been in my life!
- Jesus is the answer!
- Pastors who are willing to lead and love and surrender their hearts and souls to Jesus, and to love the world like Jesus does! Best option.
- Be faithful. Duhhhh! Serious. We are not responsible for results nearly as much as to follow Christ closely.
- Preach the Word. Duhhhh! But do it to communicate to all generations, with equal love spread around.
- Be authentic. The very young and the very old can tell when someone is real and not playing church or is a believer. Integrity and sincere love go a long way with every age.
- Have four or five confidants and staff or lead volunteers around you who are much younger or older, a different gender, and a different background. This really helps with methods of preaching and leading and selection of ministries.
- Get official coaching or analysis of your preaching and leadership styles. Your blind spots will be seen by others.
- Read about and listen to other approaches and people who really understand those not your age or style.
- Pray more. The last is first.
Pastorpedia is produced monthly by three experienced pastors: Jeff Bogue, of Grace Church, in several locations in the Bath-Norton-Medina areas of Ohio; Jim Brown, of Grace Community Church in Goshen, Indiana, a church known for its strong growth, family and men’s ministries, and community response teams; and Knute Larson, a coach of pastors, who previously led The Chapel in Akron for 26 years. Pastorpedia is brought to you by CE National. Visit cenational.org/pastorpedia for more issues and to read the bios of our contributors.