Ever feel like the world you stepped into when you began in ministry no longer exists?
You’re not alone.
The culture around us is changing.
You can debate when the collapse of Christendom in the West began, but there is little doubt we are witnessing a massive shift away from the cultural consensus that existed even a few generations ago.
So as a church leader—as views on sexuality, family, parenting, drugs, finance and other values change—how do you respond? What do you do when the world for which you trained—maybe even the world where your approach was once effective—is disappearing before your eyes?
What’s the key to responding when the world around you no longer
shares your value system
pays much attention to you
thinks you add anything to the cultural mix?
I see at least five approaches emerging, some that are helpful and some that aren’t.
1. Be Oblivious to Culture
Some churches appear to be oblivious to culture.
Walk into a church like this, and you won’t be able to tell whether it’s 2016, 1996 or 1966 for that matter.
The sermons are theoretical and not at all practical, nor do they engage the realities of the world people inevitably will walk back into Monday morning.
The music is remarkably stale and sounds like nothing you’d hear anywhere else. No one looks like they would be comfortable visiting a trendy local restaurant. It’s the same old, same old, and this church seems old.
What happens if you’re oblivious to the culture around you? If you’re indifferent to the culture, it should be no surprise that the culture is indifferent to you.
This approach produces irrelevance.
2. Hide From Culture
Unlike churches that are indifferent to the culture, churches that hide from the culture are aware of what’s going on around them. But they’re scared. Really scared.
So they hide.
You’ll hear Christians in this camp vow to never do anything ‘secular.’ Sometimes Christians set up their own networks as a safe cocoon from others.
They live on GodTube and Faithbook. They have ‘Christian’ alternatives to everything you can think of.
This approach stifles the mission of the church.
Effectively, it’s a retreat and runs counter from the church’s mission to advance.
As a result, many in this camp don’t actually know any non-Christians.
You can’t reach the world you don’t know, understand or love.