Tuesday, January 31, 2017

4 ways for pastors to navigate the church through the new America

Protests, riots, bitter hatred, and the intolerance of tolerance—get used to it—it’s the new America.

America is increasingly dividing. There’s a deep chasm between ideologies and worldviews. Moral relativism and subjective truth are now part of the new norms. 

If we’re honest, we all have opinions. Everyone reads a story through the lens of their beliefs.

The point? We’re living in a new America, but the problem is with the church—stick with me.

If the church is to exist and thrive in the new America, it must be about Christ’s business—it must be seeking to help rescue the lost, hurting, and rebellious. However, the church sees culture as the problem—sticking its head in the sand like an ostrich.

 Let me give you four ways to navigate through the waters of post-Christian America.

1. Social media

Social media is not going away—it’s here to stay. So, I’ll give you a big tip—don’t “like” the click-bait! Click bait is an article designed to “wow” a person in the hopes that he or she will click on it, and read it. Be careful about what you click, and especially, which posts that you respond, or “like”.

As a leader, everyone watches you. Especially on social media. When you “like” an article that blasts and shames the very people that your church is attempting to reach—how does that help?

For example, if you truly cared about LGBTQ people and their eternal welfare, should you post condemning statements or share articles that “prove” your point? Look, if you’re a pastor, you have a biblical view—stick to it—but love the lost.

We must remember, unbelievers are “blinded” by the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), they’re “sons of disobedience” and fooled by “the prince of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). Satan has an evil scheme (Ephesians 6:11). So, let’s be wise.

Use social media as a tool. Use it to interact with non-believers. Join an LGBTQ page. Read their stories, pray for them, get to know them. 

This leads to point number two.

2. Be intentional

In the new America people gravitate more towards like-minded people. This is a product of social media and media bias. Facebook utilizes algorithms to suggest that you like and follow people exactly like you. The main stream media has an agenda—whether it is conservative or liberal.

So, what happens when you only follow people who are just like you? Wait before you respond.

Do you know why I love new believers?

Because they have tons of lost friends! Sadly, the longer you’ve been a Christian, the less and less unchurched friends you’ll have—it’s a fact. We must lead our people to be intentional. Allow for uncomfortable conversations. If you want to reach the lost, you must go to the lost—be intentional.

3. Gospel-focus

Next. To navigate the new America, pastors must remain gospel-focused. Don’t take sides with any political entity—Jesus is Lord, that’s as political as it gets!

I don’t know about you, but I’m tried and true, thoroughly American—but not at the expense of losing my identity in Christ. The Apostle Paul penned the words, we’re to be “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20).
Why is that significant? Because Paul was a citizen of the most powerful empire in the world—Rome.

Yet, Paul realized that nationality, ethnicity, and gender can get in the way of serving Christ (Galatians 3:28). We’re called to be “ministers of reconciliation”—as God speaks through us (2 Corinthians 5:18–19). Do not lose focus.

4. Unity

Lastly, to navigate a severely and deeply divided America—pastors must be unifiers. 

Things around us are chaotic—storms, marches, hatred, shootings, and diseases. But we know that Jesus is the “same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

We’re called to bring unity to a broken world. Let’s lay aside our agendas, our nationalistic pride, our isolationism, and our self-righteousness. Let us humbly serve Christ. Let us bring unity to brokenness.

 Let us be people of the gospel.

We exist for such a time as this.

Source: Matthew Fretwell 

 Matt Fretwell is married, has three daughters, is an author, pastor, east coast director of New Breed Church Planting, and founder of Planting RVA, in Richmond, Va. Matt writes for Church Planter Magazine and is pursuing his doctorate at Southeastern. 

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