The Church and Its Community

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Local churches must face the challenge of a changing community.  How do we deal with a culture that has changed?  What is the biblical response to this problem?  That’s what our lesson is going to attempt to answer.

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Bob Orner in an article titled, “Can the Church Adapt, to Demographic Reality?” said, “Most of us are slow to admit that we struggle with being closed-minded, and don’t know how to talk to people outside our culture. The truth is that many of us are highly suspicious of almost everyone outside our city’s limits. Unfortunately, if we struggle with insularity, we will struggle with gospel impact.”  He went on to state that we must develop a cultural intelligence.  This means that we need to make a careful study of behaviors which will include, “language, food, music, clothing, art, pace of life, emotional display, eye contact, sports, etc.”  Then we must develop an awareness of self and an awareness of context.  This means being able to recognize our own cultural weaknesses or strengths and our ability or lack of ability to adapt to new situations.  Finally, he says that we need to make a practical application of this knowledge and awareness.

Recently Thom Rainer conducted an unscientific Twitter poll.   He asked the question: “Why do you think many churches aren’t as evangelistic as they once were?”  Following are the leading answers that he received.

  1. Christians have no sense of urgency to reach lost people.
  2. Many Christians and church members do not befriend and spend time with lost persons.
  3. Many Christians and church members are lazy and apathetic.
  4. We are more known for what we are against than what we are for.
  5. Our churches have an ineffective evangelistic strategy of “you come” rather than “we go.”
  6. Many church members think that evangelism is the role of the pastor and paid staff.
  7. Church membership today is more about getting my needs met rather than reaching the lost.
  8. Church members are in a retreat mode as culture becomes more worldly and unbiblical.
  9. Many church members don’t really believe that Christ is the only way of salvation.
  10. Our churches are no longer houses of prayer equipped to reach the lost.
  11. Churches have lost their focus on making disciples who will thus be equipped and motivated to reach the lost.
  12. Christians do not want to share the truth of the gospel for fear they will offend others. Political correctness is too commonplace even among Christians.
  13. Most churches have unregenerate members who have not received Christ themselves.
  14. Some churches have theological systems that do not encourage evangelism.
  15. Our churches have too many activities; they are too busy to do the things that really matter.

Notice that at least six of the sixteen are connected to the church’s view of its community.  Local churches must face the challenge of a changing community.  How do we deal with a culture that has changed?  What is the biblical response to this problem?  That’s what our lesson is going to attempt to answer.

Objective:  By the end of the lesson the student should be reminded that the church has a mission to accomplish in the community in which the church is located.  The student will recognize that as the culture changes methods may change but not the message.

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