Change the World, Not the Message

The church has a hard time with change. Some like the way things used to be. Some have been through change that was difficult or harmful. Some just lack the energy for it.

Unfortunately, the culture isn't going to wait for us to decide to do it.

I've said it numerous times before, but the culture is quickly leaving the church behind. This isn't, necessarily, because of our theology, but because we refuse to embrace the changing culture.

Also unfortunately, the types of change that we need to make are not big, theological issues, but the insignificant-feeling peripheral ones.

Carey Nieuwhof is a pastor who has a website. He wrote this article on what he thinks are cultural trends the church cannot ignore. He names 12 trends – and says there are yet more – that the church needs to embrace. I'm not going to enumerate them all here, but I will highlight my favorites.

He mentions that “online” is everyone's new default. That is, a poorly updated Facebook page and outdated website are not going to cut it. Certainly, this is a peripheral issue, but important. He extends this to integration of technology in other facets of church life, such worship and study.

Notably, he mentions that authority and institutions have less and less credibiity. I believe this is one of the most meaningful things the church needs to address.

Coming from a “turn or burn” background, I agree with him that the use of guilt in the conversion and discipleship process is becoming more and more harmful. Jesus never used guilt to reach the world, and neither should we.

Finally, he suggests that faith needs to embrace the culture's increasing reliance on dialogue. Our faith cannot just be handed down to us on a worksheet or in the pages of the latest book written by Mark Driscoll. He suggests that the culture is placing more and more emphasis on dialogue as a way culture operates.

As that horrible Bible miniseries said, Jesus came to “change the world.” He asked us to do the same. He didn't say we had to do it with first century sensibilities or technology.

What do you think?

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