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Eight Things You Can Do to Engage the Culture Around You

February 12th, 2013 3 comments

engagingculture

Picked up this article, and am passing it along.

Many Christians know that it’s important to engage those in the culture around them with the message of the cross, but they often don’t know how to start. It seems a little intimidating to hang out with those who aren’t followers of Jesus. It’s much more comfortable to do things together with Christian friends.

To start engaging those around you who don’t believe in Jesus, you have to overcome your complacency. You need to get over any fears or discomfort. One way to do this is to focus on 1 John 4:4 – “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” Recognize that the power of God in you is greater than the power of the enemy.

You have to begin by overcoming your commitment to do nothing!

8 Ways to Engage Those in the Culture Around You

1. Start conversations – just talk to people: your neighbors, the person in line with you at the grocery store, the person pumping gas next to you, or the person ordering coffee or enjoying a latte next to you. Just talk to people!

2. Hang out with people who enjoy the same things you do – find some non-Christians who you can join enjoying what you enjoy: join a book club, an local sports league, a service organization, the PTA, etc. Find a way to hang out with people who don’t know Christ who enjoy doing what you enjoy doing!

3. Volunteer somewhere – just find a place to serve in your community: tutor kids at a local school, coach a sports team, serve meals at a shelter, etc. Just start serving in your community and be consistent!

4. Tell stories – people enjoy good stories so good at sharing stories. Tell people your life story, your faith story, and even Bible stories. Get really good at telling stories.

5. Get to know your community by asking questions – intentionally ask people questions: what matters to you about our community? what frustrates you? what do you love? what would you love to change? Discover the important aspects of your community by listening and asking questions. Become an expert on your part of town.

6. Invite others to join you – Jesus sent His disciples by twos. Find some friends to join you as you engage those in the culture around you. Never go alone.

7. Pray with others – Ask non-Christians in our life what challenges they are facing and offer to pray for them with them. The key is to pray with them! When you see them again, follow-up by asking how God answered your prayer!

8. Address physical and spiritual needs around you – just meet needs! If you don’t know of any needs in your area, just ask those around you: “What needs do you or others you know have?” You’ll be surprised at the amazing needs that are right around you. Start small – do one thing this week!

It isn’t difficult to start engaging those in the culture around you. You just have to start somewhere.

Categories: Outreach

The Secret to Getting People to Come to Church—Shocking and Amazing!!

January 11th, 2013 1 comment

Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.

Do you see the fields, white, ready for harvest? They are everywhere around us: friends, neighbors, coworkers, acquaintances. Every single study of how people are drawn to the Gospel of Jesus and into His Church proves, beyond any shadow of doubt or argument, that the single most effective “technique” is simply this: a Christian inviting a non-Christian to church, going with them and introducing them to the Church. Yes, it’s that simple. All the fancy-schmancy programs and techniques and “new amazing principles” never, ever, match the effectiveness of the simple invitation: “Come and see!”

And so, my friends in Christ, we here at CPH cordially invite you to take the opportunity presented by Easter to reach out, boldly, to all those around you, to entire neighborhoods and communities and invite people to “come and see!” We have developed a simple, yet powerful, little outreach kit for you to use. Here is more information about it. How about this for an idea? What if each family in your congregation were given this kit and encouraged to distribute these components to fifty friends, family, neighbors, etc. I know Lutherans are reticent to do anything like this, come on, admit it, we are, but…how about we give it a try? What could it hurt? Can we at least try to bring people into the Church where they will be able to hear God’s Word? We can do it! Click on the image below to go to the page where you can order these kits. You can download a free instructional guide on how to use them.

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Categories: Outreach

Syncing Your Faith: Challenges in Mission and Outreach

April 9th, 2010 9 comments

A well done post by Joe Burnham: Over the past couple weeks, I took time to sit in on the Theology of Mission course that was being offered at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Tshwane where I’m currently serving as guest professor. The class, which was taught by Detlev Schulz, author of Mission from the Cross: The Lutheran Theology of Mission is essentially, as the book would suggest, an exploration into the missional nature of Lutheran theology. Given that I’ve been fleshing this out in my own mind and teaching what I’ve been discovering for the past 6 years, it was good to hear that someone else in the Lutheran circles I run in has come to many of the same conclusions.

One day in class we were discussing one of the biggest challenges for any Christian who seeks to be missional … syncretism.

syncretism – an amalgomation or attempted amalgomation of different religions, cultures, or schools of thought

The challenge stems from the reality that, while the gospel is timeless and above culture, it is always expressed in and through culture. This means that anytime you seek to take the gospel from one culture to another you have one of two options:

1. you take people out of their native culture and move them into a culture where you already have a faithful translation of the gospel
2. you learn a new culture and faithfully translate the gospel for that culture

For many years, missionaries chose the first option, much to the detriment of both culture and the gospel. Be it through colonialism in Africa or the early Lutheran efforts to reach out to Native Americans in Frankenmouth; imposing Western culture on non-Western groups not only created resentment towards the West (including Christianity), but it also resulted in indiginous people never fully taking hold of the gospel and remaining dependent on foreign missionaries. One example of this would be the aforementioned Frankenmouth outreach which lasted for decades but only resulted in only two Native Americans attempting seminary education (both dropped out) and the complete abandonment of the Lutheran faith when the Native Americans were forced onto reservations.

So, having learned from the failures of previous generations, missionaries are now working on option two. The problem is, whenever you try and explain something new, like the gospel, you have to work within people’s existing mental framework, in other words, you have to start with what they know and take them to what they don’t know. This brings us back to the challenge of syncretism, because what people already know often becomes blended in with the new gospel teaching.

Now, in Africa, syncretism is rather blatant, because it typically happens as the animistic tribal religions are blended with Christianity. So, for example, the rites of the liturgy aren’t something designed to point you to Christ and his work for you through the cross and empty tomb, but they are things that you do to appease God (which, oddly enough, has a Medieval Roman Catholic sacramental vibe to it). However, in the United States, syncretism is much more subtle because there isn’t a native religion (except for on the aforementioned reservations) to syncronize with Christianity, rather, various elements of popular philosophy have managed to penetrate their way into the Christian thought and left people clinging to something less than the gospel. Let me offer a few examples:

* Materialism: The most blatant expression of this would be your health and wealth preachers who boldly declare that, if you have faith and do the things that God wants, then you’ll be blessed with material wealth. In contrast to this, the gospel is intensely sacrificial in nature and isn’t about getting, but giving.
* Individualism: This version has God being all about you, your salvation, and being the best you that you can be. This stands in stark contrast to Scripture which doesn’t focus on the individual, but the community.
* Consumerism: By nature, consumerism views people as objects and works to get them to buy into your brand. Many churches have, in the name of Jesus, objectified people which devalues them and therefore stands in contradiction to the gospel.
* Conservative Politics: The Republican Party, especially under the leadership of George W. Bush, co-opted the Christian vote by highlighting select issues. However, in the process, many Christians wed themselves to the parties entire platform, including those elements that are contrary to the gospel.
* Liberal Politics: As part of a backlash to syncretism with conservative politics, some Christians who want to see an emphasis on care for the poor, disagree with Bush’s war philosophy, or want a government to serve as a check and balance against the sinfulness of corporate American, have now gone to the other extreme and embraced a pure liberal political stance.

So, how do Christians work to avoid syncing their faith with the very culture we are part of and seek to share our faith with? Here are a few guidelines I’ve come up with:

* Repent: The truth is, we’re all syncretists. Realize that there is no human culture that is in complete alignment with the gospel and we’ve all read elements of our culture into the gospel story. Admit this, ask God for forgiveness, and ask for the Spirit to guide you as you move forward.
* Get Out of the Water: Much like a fish doesn’t realize it’s in water until it finds itself on land, we don’t realize how much we are a part of our culture until we step out of it. Go somewhere and experience something that’s radically different … force yourself to look at home with new eyes.
* Stand Under the Bible: All too often, when we study the Bible, we read it through our cultural eyes and in such a way that it makes God like the people we like and hate the people we hate … we conform God and Scripture to our image rather than allowing it to transform us. You will never understand the Bible until you stand under it and allow it to change you.

So, what am I missing?

Categories: Outreach