When you have that kind of long-term stability, it’s natural for change to feel more dangerous than typical – especially when the change is challenging the way you live, worship, work and play in some fundamental ways.
3. None Of Us Understands The Culture Around Us As Much As We Think
This may be the biggest challenge of all.
There are two equal, but opposite mistakes we make when it comes to understanding and communicating to the culture around us.
On one side, we have the fresh-out-of-seminary pastor who comes roaring into town with exciting new ideas about being “relevant”, “real” and “relatable” only to crash and burn in a small rural town that doesn’t see the need for a church with a name like “Oasis” or a worship pastor with holes in the knees of their pants (on purpose, no less!)
On the other side, you have the long-time local pastor who knows the town, its people and its traditions, but hasn’t kept up with how people, even in their traditional setting, have changed in the way they receive information, relate to each other, and what they expect from the church. If they expect anything at all.
So, with all these changes not just happening, but accelerating at a very rapid pace, what can a church leader in the Bible Belt do to understand their situation better and get ready for the inevitable changes to come?
Here are three ideas from someone who has been living in a very post-Christian culture for my entire life:
What To Do?
1. Put Less Energy Into Fighting The Culture, More Into Loving People
Jesus and the Apostle Paul didn’t try to change either the Roman or Jewish culture around them. They invested themselves in sharing God’s love with those who were willing to receive it. By doing that, they didn’t settle for changing the culture, they turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6).
Now, more than ever, people are looking for a church that is less interested in winning the culture wars and more interested in sharing the love of Jesus.
(For more on this topic, check out my previous article, Be Undeniable: A Christian Alternative to Engaging In the Culture Wars.)