We asked several Christian leaders, “What should churches served by CHRISTIAN STANDARD strive to be or do or look like in the next decades?”
Their answers are as diverse as they are challenging.
By James Book
There is no question our facilities and the way we communicate with our church family and community will change over the next few years. We have come to expect constant change in this age of technology. The church need not back away from using every form of media outlet to convey the truth. Generations coming up are constantly using their cellular devices. People stare at computer screens more than each other, and so the church must use these electronic devices to connect with folks. In addition to posting church information on the web, we can post, play, and live stream sermons; we can even encourage friends who won’t set foot in a church facility to remotely access the message.
Second, I believe we can present the truth of Christ’s message in a more loving, passionate, precise, and courageous way than we have in the past. Truth is under assault. Long-accepted values are now mocked and ridiculed. We must discover or rediscover the essentiality of strong, biblically sound preaching and teaching that is applicable and relevant to today’s critical thinkers.
In Fool’s Gold, John MacArthur writes, “Seeker-sensitive churches tend to minimize the gospel message in order to soften topics such as sin, repentance, divine wrath, and eternal punishment. . . . Hence biblical sermons are often replaced with short talks, videos and skits.”
These times require preachers become more transparent and intentional, especially when speaking from the pulpit. The people of this generation don’t want just to be welcomed and accepted, they desperately want to be challenged. What in the church and Christianity is markedly different from that offered by the secular world? Our message and lifestyle must complement each other. The Scriptures refer to disciples as “peculiar people.” We must encourage our youngest churchgoers to incorporate their biblical worldview in every walk of life. Compartmentalization of our faith and witness has damaged our influence. We must reeducate our people about what it means to “take up our cross daily.” The day of boasting big numbers on Sunday morning must now translate into full-time disciples shining their light and testimony throughout the week.
Finally, let’s reach as many shades of people as we can. Every Lord’s Day in my church I preach in English, while elsewhere in the building the gospel message is preached in French creole and Spanish. One church—multiple cultures. It’s like the Day of Pentecost! Our message is timeless, and our motivation is simply this: Jesus is coming back! If the next generation of disciples wants to be relevant in an ever-changing and complex society, we must be real, faithful, and very biblical.
James Book serves as senior minister with First Christian Church, Kissimmee, Florida.