ReforMission – Engaging with a Changing Culture (Part 3 of 4)
I remember listening to a high school speaker talk about the relationship between cause and effect. He invited a student on to the stage, gave him a ball and invited the young man to throw the ball as hard as he could into the wall at the back of the stage. The lad hesitated. The speaker encouraged him, suggesting that the young man stand closer to the wall to ensure that he got maximum power.
The young man threw the ball as hard as he could at the wall he was now standing immediately in front of. The principle of cause and effect sprang into action – the ball rebounded off the back wall, right into the young man’s abdomen. Gasping for air, the young man demanded an explanation. “Why did you make me do that?” The speaker simply replied, “what did you think would happen?”
Sometimes, this cause and effect logic shapes our understanding of mission. We think that methods are more important than mission. We think, ‘if I run the right program, play the right music, follow the right steps, people will flock through our doors!’
The reality is that they don’t. Methods, strategy, planning are all important. But in order to engage with our changing culture, we need to love the mission (Matthew 28:19-20) more than the methods (the programs, strategies etc). In other words, the transformational nature of the Gospel, of what Jesus has done for us on the cross, is our drive to love the people around us.
The message of the mission always remains the same. But methods must only ever serve mission! To engage with our changing culture, we need to ensure that our methods are appropriate for the culture with whom we seek to engage.
- What missional message are you trying to convey into the cultural space in which you live and worship?
- Are there methods (programs) which your church community has always done, that no longer seem to engage with the community around you?
- Read Matthew 28:19-20 and Acts 1:8. What do you think Jesus means when he talks about bearing witness and making disciples? To whom is he directing his followers to bear witness and make disciples?
- Reflect on some of the mission opportunities facing your community. How might Love speak into those situations?
Pastor David Schmidt is Director of the LCAQD Ministry and Mission Department.