Who Are You Trying to Reach?

Your church is designed to reach a specific culture, whether you know it or not; whether you like it or not.
 
If fact, it is designed to reach the specific culture and people that it is reaching.
 
If your church is reaching old people, it is designed to reach old people.
 
If your church is reaching young families, it is designed to reach young families.
 
If your church only reaches white people, it is designed to reach only white people (the only excuse for this is if you live where there are only white people).
 
If your church only reaches women, it is designed to only reach women.
 
And if your church is reaching no one; it is only because it is designed to reach no one.
 
At least, no one who exists is in your immediate culture and context.
 
It might mean that your church is designed to reach a culture that existed 10, 20, 30, 40, or even 50+ years ago; and only a few people from that culture still exist in the immediate context of your church.
 
If so, this is because the culture in America has radically changed multiple times over the last few decades. So even if you are trying to reach the culture that existed just 10 years ago, you are still missing a large portion of the population surrounding you.
 
Now, at this point someone is thinking (or possibly even saying out loud), “The message of Jesus never changes and neither should the church!”
 
If you thought or said that, let me ask you a few questions:
 
Why does your church not look like churches did 400-500 years ago during the Protestant Reformation?
 
Instead, why does your church look like churches from only 50, 40, 30, 20, or 10 years ago?
 
Why did you settle on a style of church designed to reach a particular culture and context that existed in a past decade (or century) instead of using a style designed to reach the current culture and context?
 
I wholeheartedly agree that the message of Jesus doesn’t change, but culture does; and therefore, so should the church.
 
The real question is HOW should the church change.
 
This is not just a question about music style or building style (although you should serious consider those things). This is largely a question about information and the presentation of that information.
 
If we look at the example of Paul, he wrote:
 
I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings (1 Corinthians 9:22-23).
 
Paul tailored the presentation of his message to reach the particular culture and context in which he presented it.
 
When Paul preached in Jewish synagogues, he referenced the Jewish Scripture and traditions: but when he spoke to the Greeks on Mars Hill, he referenced their culture and context (Acts 17).
 
So, honestly look at your church and ask yourself, what decade is it stuck in? What culture and context is it designed to reach?
 
One big way to figure this out (besides music) is if you use church jargon and catch phrases. If someone who knew absolutely nothing about the Bible or Jesus came to your church, would they understand what you were saying, or would you have to explain every other word and phrase to them?
 
Do you break down theological concepts in such a way that someone who knew nothing about Christianity would understand what you are saying?
 
For instance, do you use the word, “sin” without explaining it? We now live in a culture that no longer understands the concept of “sin.”
 
Do you use the word, “holy” without explaining it? We now live in a culture that no longer understands the concept of “holy.”
 
Do you use the word, “saved” without explaining it? We now live in a culture that no longer understands what it means to be “saved.”
 
Do you refer to “heaven” or “hell” without giving biblical explanations for them? We now live in a culture that either misunderstands, or doesn’t believe in heaven or hell at all.  
 
Do you refer to being a “disciple” without clearly explaining what it means to be a disciple of Jesus? Most people who go to church don’t understand what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, much less the people of the surrounding culture and context who do not attend church.
 
So, do you really want to reach people for Jesus?
 
Really?
 
Would you be willing to do as Paul did and “become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some?”
 
If so, you might consider joining us at His Words His Ways Fellowship if you live in the Morganton, NC area (we are currently not meeting in person due to Covid-19, but you can check out our messages on Facebook, and check for when we will reopen).
 
 
But if you would rather attempt to change your existing church, start here and follow the link at the end of each article to the next one:
 

The Four Principles of Discipleship…

 
 

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash