In this worship gathering, we hear a message on how the church handles culture and cultural change – what can be adapted and what should be eschewed. Based on Revelation 2.12-17, the letter to the church at Pergamum, you can watch the gathering here or just the message elsewhere on the channel.
Earlier this week, I had the privilege of spending part of my day with a young man from our congregation. It was “take your kid to work day”, and since this particular young man understood his parents’ work, he asked them if he could spend some time with me.
Of course, I readily agreed!
Since no two days of my ministry are alike, I wasn’t sure exactly what we would do, but I invited him to help me with a number of regular activities in the study, and we made a ‘road trip’ to the Canadian Bible Society to pick up a Bible my wife and I want to give to an acquaintance. So I showed him the vast range of English and non-English Bibles available for purchase and distribution. We had lunch, and on the way home we stopped at Tyndale University College & Seminary to see the chapel and the bookstore, where my wife works.
Amid all the activities we undertook from the time I picked him up until I took him home, we chatted about a vast array of matters, including how faith impacts his life as a Grade 9 student. He may have learned a little from me, but I learned a lot from him.
While I may have spent the day mentoring my young friend, he also spoke into my life as a Christian leader.
It leads me to ask you: are you engaged in relationships with people younger than you including (but by no means limited to) your own children?
There is mutual learning that can come from that. The young person understands that you care, in a tangible way, because you are giving him or her the gift of time and wisdom. And you learn from the young person because you get to view life and faith from a very different perspective.
You might think to yourself that you were young once, and that’s certainly true; but the cultural context in which you and I were young is vastly different from the culture in which today’s youth live. And if you’re like me, you don’t often immerse yourself in youth culture today. We need to learn from our young people what life is like for them if we’re going to help equip them, and their parents, for effective Christian living in the current cultural context.
So spend some time praying about whom you might come alongside. Offer that young person your faith and wisdom. And listen to that young person’s story to learn what contemporary culture is really like.
It doesn’t mean that you or the younger person have to change your views on matters of theology, but the dialogue will enrich you both.
The dialogue I shared with my young friend certainly enriched me. Give it a try!
“We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other” (Romans 12.5, NLT).
Encouragement From The Word will return on November 30.
One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that the more I know, the more I know I don’t know: it’s important always to be learning.
Like many of us, when I was younger, I thought I had it all figured out; I knew everything there was to know. But one applicant at a company had a different slant on it. When the human resources director asked him what he expected to be paid, she said, “You certainly expect to be compensated well for a beginner.”
The applicant replied, “Well, sure. Work’s a lot harder when you don’t know what you’re doing.”
It’s true that work is harder when you don’t know what you’re doing. And one of the challenges of being the church today is that every week, we aim to hit a target, only to find that it has moved. Culture is changing more rapidly than the world has ever seen. And if God’s people are going to be effective in reaching others for Jesus, we need to be aware of the culture into which we’re speaking.
The challenge, for some, is that they get so sucked in by the culture that they become indistinguishable from the culture, and lose their voice to speak into it. We can’t give up the truth of the gospel – which is, by nature, counter-cultural – in favour of popularity.
(Besides, churches can’t compete with other organizations in the popularity department. And they usually have better coffee.)
As the people of God, we are charged with the responsibility of steady growth, learning more each day about what it means to follow Jesus in our changing times. The question is, What are you doing to learn and grow?
Sunday morning alone won’t cut it; we need involvement in a small group (what we at St. Paul’s call LifeConnect Groups) and some sort of service outlet, whether it’s helping the youth group or in kids’ ministry or perhaps some community group – these help us grow in Christ.
What are you doing to learn and grow?
“So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God” (Hebrews 6.1, NLT).