Church, Quit Trying to Fit In
The Church is called to be holy. I think that’s something all Christians can agree on. We are the body of Christ in the world, the community of faith in which Christ moves by grace to bring justice to the oppressed, provision to the needy, truth to the seeker, and saving faith to the unbeliever.
But if holy literally means “set apart”, why do our churches spend so much time trying to figure out how to fit in with the world?
Everywhere I look, I see pastors, worship leaders, conferences, and even entire denominations discussing how we, the Church, can change and adapt to the surrounding culture to provide a message that is relevant to them. We spend so much effort trying to figure out how to fit in that we forget about what makes us stand out!
I’m not talking about keeping up with technology or worship styles, or anything else of that nature; those are simply means to the end. I’m talking about the end that is the gospel message itself – how it has been altered, adapted, watered down, and in some cases completely neglected in order to address the post-modern ideology, relativism, and self-indulgence prevalent in western culture.
Perhaps we might have more unity in the Church if we all embraced the areas where we do stand out – where we are holy: We are called by God. We believe and affirm the doctrine of our fathers. We put the needs of others before ourselves. We love people, truly love people (or at least we’re supposed to!), all people, even those we disagree with – in fact, we should love them even more!
And not just with love, but with holy love – a love that is set apart, wholly different, completely other than the world. Do you want a message that is relevant to today’s culture? Try holy love.
Love for your neighbor of a different ethnicity.
Love for your obnoxious coworker who’s favorite team beat yours last night.
Love for your boss who keeps giving you a hard time.
Love for your employee who just can’t seem to get something right.
Love for your family, a love that puts them before your work.
Even when love gets hard.
Love for the released convict that lives on your block.
Love for the muslim who’s sitting across from you on the plane.
Love for the smelly homeless, the contagiously ill, the socially awkward.
If the Church is called to be holy, maybe we should stop thinking about how we can change to be part of the world and start thinking about how we can change the world. And nothing has more transforming power than the love of God in Christ through faith by grace. This is the gospel!
Sure we can figure out the best ways to communicate this message with modern technology. Of course we can consider strategies and techniques for preaching Godly truth to a post-modern pluralistic culture. And it is true that without effective evangelism, our Church will continue to decline.
But effective evangelism doesn’t require us to change our message or adapt to the world! Consider the words of John Wesley:
I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out.
Are we so arrogant to believe that the Church will cease to exist without our evangelism plans? Do we really think that it all relies on us, our latest techniques, and our hip, new, outreach strategy?
I sure hope not! The power of evangelism is in the gospel! I firmly believe that the Church’s only hope is to “hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which we first set out.” We are called to be holy, not to mirror the world and adapt our message to accommodate it.
Let’s preach the gospel again! Let’s teach scriptural holiness. Let’s call all people to holy transformation, starting in the Church. Father forgive us for our negligence. Come revive the life of our Church!
About the Author
Kevin Cook is a 4th year student at Asbury Theological Seminary and an Aspirant for Ordination in the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA). After graduating, Kevin hopes to plant a contemporary three-streams Anglican Church. He and his wife Nicole attend Wilmore Anglican Church in Kentucky.
Kevin holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music and a Master of Business Administration from Florida State University. Kevin enjoys playing music and leading worship, reading fiction and spiritual classics, drinking coffee, and spending time with family and friends.
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