In his book “Didn’t See it Coming” Carey Nieuwhof writes “when the speed of change around an organisation is faster than the speed of change inside the organisation, the organisation becomes irrelevant.” In other words, as the cultural gap widens the ability to connect with the culture surrounding decreases. This inability for the church to engage with the culture of our day, is one of the significant reasons for the decline of Christianity in Australia. (Today, just over 50% of Australians class themselves Christian, compared to 88% 50 years ago (SOURCE: 2016 Census)
Luther engaged with his culture. He was conscious of the close intersection between faith and life. So he leveraged this relationship in order to convey the grace of God… even using ‘modern technology’ (the printing press) to expand the church’s capacity to share the gospel.
Change happens! How we choose to respond to change is the important thing. We can fight against it. Or we can work with it. If we want to strongly engage with the culture in which we live we need to work with change. The fact is, change is either externally imposed or internally driven. To embrace change, and to learn to live with it, enables me to remain relevant to the generations that I live with, and the generations that follow me.
What this means is that as followers of Jesus, the message we share needs to be contextual. If we truly want to engage with the community in which we live, that community needs to know that our hearts are toward them. We need to be so in tune with the difference Christ has had on our own lives, that we are driven by an overwhelming passion to share the change that Jesus makes with others.
- Are there cultural clashes within your faith community? Or between your faith community and the wider community?
- Read Acts 17:22-31. How do you think a ‘good Jew’ would have normally responded to a city full of idols? What was Paul’s initial reaction (see v16)? How did he engage with the Athenian culture in order share Jesus?
- Reflect further on some of the cultural clashes you experience. How might Love speak into those situations?
Pastor David Schmidt is Director of the LCAQD Ministry and Mission Department.