There is something relaxing and almost picturesque about enjoying coffee and a good book with a pristine view of the snow-topped Rockies outside the window to my left. Vacation is a good thing.
The main reading goal I have this week is to finish Ed Stetzers ‘Breaking The Missional Code.’ However, my brother-in-law, Jake Shivley, had Mark Batterson’s ‘In a Pit With a Lion On A Snowy Day.’ Both are speaking to me in special ways.
In Breaking The Missional Code, the theme so far is learning how to reach the culture with your church. As a son of pastor who has been in the same Southern church for a quarter-century, I can see some of the difficulties.
I liked this observation:
When the church was the first choice of spiritual seekers, we just needed to be there. They knew we were here. Most people had friends who attended. All they needed to do was come…and they did.
Now we need more proactive strategies. We need to go to the people. Maybe we have lost ground because we have been thinking that they should come to us.
The authors note that some churches are in traditional pockets of the country and those churches may be best suited with traditional approaches. But it was great to see that the authors clarified the difference between church culture and community culture:
Evangelicals have struggled with responding to these new realities, finding reasons not to respond. It is important to note that the shift to postmodernism has not happened everywhere–it has not yet impacted man in the church culture because the church culture acts as a protective shiled, unmolested by secular culture’s music, literature, and values.
Churches have a choice whether they will change or become a shrine to to the ways church was done 150 years ago.
Many say these shifts…do not matter. They are convinced if you just “preach the gospel” and perhaps “love the people” that your church will reach the people. They are wrong, and their ideas hurt the mission of the church.
The second chapter elaborates:
Not every church is called to reach the same people, worship using the same music, attract the same people, and appreciate the same values. For most churches, this happens accidentally. The church takes on the character of its people–and in the process it often distances itself from the community…
If a church does not regularly examine its culture, it ends up as a culture unto itself. Soon the church is filled with people who pray in King James English, call the pastor “brother” to show respect, and forbid women from wearing pants to church. They are still relating to cultural issues that were relevant 100 years before.
I pray that the rest of the book is used by God to give me a calling and vision for my personal ministry.
(Special thanks to Mike Smith, pastor at Victory Church, for recommending the book.)