Nowadays, there is a lot of talk about ‘culture’ and especially how it relates to Christian worship and the gospel in general. The question with which we need to deal is whether our culture drives the gospel or should the gospel drive our culture. It seems to me that the latter is correct, but it is easier said than done. We certainly wish to be relevant to our culture, yet we don’t wish to compromise the pure gospel.
Jesus was born into a culture and presented a refreshing gospel, which was rather radical by the Scribes and Pharisee’s standards. Perhaps we may need to think seriously about how we present the gospel and all that we do as Christians so that we can affect our culture positively as well. And sometimes it may mean thinking ‘outside the square’ a little more than we tend to do.
For many in our present culture, the ‘church’ is a place where you go when there is a wedding or a funeral. For some, ‘church’ is the soup kitchen that is held every Friday evening, or a men’s breakfast or even our own ‘Lifted-Up’ on a Saturday morning. For others, it may be the Christian op-shop. Whatever it is, the reality is that it is at these ‘mission’ events where some non-Christian people gather and have ‘fellowship’ with Christians and each other. And if that is the case, it is important that these small, but important ‘mission’ events are saturated with gospel talk and good, Christian literature.
It seems to me that if we really wish to influence our communities and reach them with the gospel, a lot more thought needs to go into these types of mission ministries and also how we ‘do church’. That doesn’t mean that our normal worship services should be done away with, not at all. There is a time for coming together as the Lord’s people and to worship and just delight in our marvellous God and what He has done for us in Christ. And it is our hope and prayer that some people who come to the mission events will progress and join us in worship.
Yet, we should occasionally ask the hard questions. Why do so many churches struggle to keep their young people? Why don’t more ‘non-Christians’ come off the street and worship with us? Is the building we use for worship aesthetically appealing and welcoming? Maybe it isn’t enough to just have an ‘A’ board outside the steps announcing that we are open. Perhaps it is the seating or the arrangement thereof that hinders the gospel. Perhaps it is our worship style or format, after all, it can be rather monologue at times. All the above are food for thought.
Now I am not suggesting for a moment that we throw out our present structures or the way we worship. Yet, some of these things would be good to think about from time to time. Perhaps a small tweak here and another one there can have a great impact in our endeavours to reach the lost for Christ.
Of course, we all realise that the Holy Spirit needs to change hearts and bring people to Christ. Nevertheless, I have a strong suspicion He uses redeemed sinners like us to bring them to Christ. We just need to make sure that we are not only ready to be the willing instruments in His hand, but ensure that our buildings, furnishings, and structures are not a stumbling block. If they are then we may need to be radical and change some things so that with the Lord’s blessing, we may see the gospel impact our culture for God’s glory. JZ.
Pastor John Zuidema
Since 1997 Pastor John has been ministering to Churches across Australia and New Zealand.