“How is the Church to respond to a postmodern, post-Christian culture that discounts the church as irrelevant, yet seeks spiritual connection, that is intrigued with Jesus, but doesn’t really know Him?”
Good question and one that I have been thinking about since I first read it a few weeks ago in a book I was working my way through. It is a question that deserves some thought.
We live in a culture (if not world) where the young generation has no “Christian memory” and so do not have any common ground from which we can lead them into a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. They do not own a Bible, may have never seen one and most certainly have never read it. They have never been inside a church – in their generation funerals are done from funeral homes (if at all) and weddings are done outside or in some catering hall, again, if at all, as living common law is now simply acceptable. They don’t think of the Church when making decisions about life and have created their own set of ethics and philosophy of life not even loosely based on Bible standards as set forth by God. To them there are no absolutes (like the Ten Commandments) and they have literally created a god of their own imagination. When you present the Gospel to them (especially if you use Christianeze) it is as if you have stepped off another planet.
The older generation have traditional views, are set in their ways and beliefs, mired in lifeless tradition that no longer has meaning if it ever did and many have been deeply wounded by the Church and have not found it in their heart to forgive and be reconciled. Present the Gospel to them and you are telling them that most of what they have been taught, believed, and built their lives on – tradition, man-made rules, religion, unforgiveness and bitterness – is not worth anything and needs to be discarded to receive the true Jesus Christ. This too is offensive.
So, how do we become relevant? Wrong question.
We should stop trying to be relevant and simply be what God called us to be. Supernatural! We need to understand that the traditional “good works” of being nice neighbours and helping old men like me across the street will not bring people to Christ. We need to be more than “contagious Christians” and do more than “walk across the room”. We need to do what Jesus has left us here to do – be His witnesses using the power we received through the baptism in the Holy Spirit. We need to move in supernatural power and bring healing and deliverance to an individual, family or situation and then, when you have their attention, present the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ which is the power of God unto salvation.
Jesus gave us the baptism in the Holy Spirit (as it has commonly become known as) to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8). He told those who followed Him that the things He was doing they would do also (John 14:12). He has left us here to do exactly what He did and bring what John Wimber called “power encounters” to bear on people’s lives and situations. Then given them what Neil Anderson calls a “truth encounter” so that they will know the truth and, if received and believed, this truth will set them free – eternally.
It is time for believers to stop trying to look like and act like the world so we find acceptance. We need to be walking supernaturally at all times hearing God’s voice and speaking on His behalf into people’s lives because “we can all prophesy” (1 Corinthians 14). And as we go “into all the world” and preach the Gospel His way then He promises to be there with us to back up the words with His power flowing through us so that we can then say that we have “fully proclaimed the Gospel” as Paul states he did (Romans 15).
And, all of this must be intentional or else it simply never happens in the life of a believer. We must remember every time we step out of our homes and into the world that we have entered the mission field and that all day long opportunities will be given to us (set up and prepared by the Holy Spirit) to pray with people and present the life-changing Gospel to them. We need to “go into all our world” intentionally looking for those opportunities and open doors. Daily. Every day!
And we are not looking for decisions or notches on our Gospel belt – we are looking to make true disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ who will then learn from us “all that He has commanded us” and not just to know it but to “observe” or do everything Jesus said to do. Disciples not decisions. Which then makes us their teacher and mentor… now that is something that will help you to grow up really fast! And that would not be a bad thing either.