ADVERTISING
 
Sunday, August 18   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
ADVERTISING
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 

POLL
Society
Should Christians join social protests?



SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Peter Mead
 

We are not church sub-culture guardians

How can we know when instead of promoting the gospel in our context, we are merely reflecting the cultural and sub-cultural norms of our context? 

BIBLICAL PREACHING AUTHOR Peter Mead 18 JULY 2017 19:24 h GMT+1
stair, city Photo: Chuttersnap (Unsplash, CC)

Some days ago, I was sat in a coffee shop a few hundred miles from my home country. Behind me there were six or seven elderly men in highly animated conversation.  By highly animated I mean literally shouting over each other and gesticulating wildly.  They were not in a conflict, they were in a normal Saturday morning conversation.



This would have been completely normal for a local observer, but for me as a foreigner it was highly fascinating.  Each culture has its own set of “normal” behaviours and values which will feel anything but normal to an outsider.



Another feature of this visit is the number of conversations I have been involved in that relate to church tensions. To the insiders, each conversation has reflected what they might call deeply held biblical convictions. To my outsider ears, each conversation has reflected deeply held cultural values. Of course, you can attach a Bible verse to such things, but at their core these issues have been much more about guarding the sub-culture of a church tradition than promoting the life-giving health of the gospel.



Just like the men shouting over each other in the coffee bar, so also the men shouting over each other in these church tensions… all are very much playing out their own cultural norms. In the case of the church issues, some of those norms are cultural as per their country, while other norms are sub-cultural as per their denomination.



This presents a challenge for us all. How can we know when instead of promoting the gospel in our context, we are merely reflecting the cultural and sub-cultural norms of our context? How can we know when instead of being ambassadors for Christ in a needy world, we are instead being roadblocks to Christ that are getting in the way of people seeing His character displayed before them?



Here are seven questions to ask yourself that may help to identify where your Christianity has devolved into sub-culture promotion or protection.  Actually, it is very hard to see this in the mirror, so be sure to ask these questions in conversation with others, and especially with God – He certainly will want to help you see clearly where you are not effectively representing him.



1. Do people in your church feel comfortable bringing friends into the church community? While all might affirm the importance of inviting outsiders into the church, most will hold back if they sense that the environment is not welcoming and appropriate for their contacts.  One huge barrier will be when believers sense that their church is more about maintaining its own culture than reaching out to the lost.



2. Is there any expectation that certain issues preclude people from getting saved or hearing the gospel? It could be a lifestyle issue, an unacceptable habit, a certain look, or whatever. Is the gospel for all, or only for those that fit in with us?



3. Do certain issues dominate conversation about church more than the wonder of the gospel, the goodness of God, or the blessing of fellowship? Once you turn on the radar it soon becomes obvious what issues keep cropping up in conversation. Perhaps if there is more talk acceptable and unacceptable behaviour than there is talk of Christ, then maybe your church or your family is more about the sub-culture of a pure church than the wonder of bride of Christ.



4. Would someone encountering your church community see you as representatives of Christ, or would they see you as guardians of a specific issue / the police for a specific sin? People will notice when they meet a love that is different from anything they have experienced before.  They will also sense when your church comes across with a guardians of purity (as defined by them).



5. Do people have thought-through biblical rationale for issues that come up a lot, or is the Bible brushed aside in conversation about that issue? If a church is dealing with specific issues repeatedly then it is not unreasonable to expect the leaders to have thought-through, biblically solid, but pastorally sensitive rationale for their position.  It is a clear indication of trouble if the Bible is dismissed when it is used to challenge a dogmatically held opinion.



 6. Does the manner of conversation and addressing difficult issues reflect the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit? If the position that a person is taking is a godly position, then it won’t come across with venom and acrimony.  It will bear evidence of the fruit of the Spirit.  Divisive, critical, grace-less, argumentative or condemning attitudes are not evidence of the Spirit’s work in a person or church.



7. Are those who differ on a non-primary issue considered sub- or non-Christians? Are their churches considered sub- or non-churches? The primary issues are required agreement for fellowship to exist – that is, the Trinity, the person and work of Christ, the inspiration of Scripture, salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. No matter how important, we cannot make a non-primary issue into a primary one by simply declaring it as such ourselves. Your view on clothing, on music, on certain hobbies, on smoking, on divorce, on tattoos, etc., does not make them primary issues.



It is good to prayerfully take stock and make sure that your church stands for, represents and smells of the beauty of the gospel, of the wonder of God’s saving grace, of the other-worldly fellowship of believers and so on. It is so easy for our churches to become bastions of a sub-culture. And the frightening thing is that we may not see it, even if we look in the mirror!



Peter Mead is mentor at Cor Deo and author of several books. This article first appeared at his blog Biblical Preaching.


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - We are not church sub-culture guardians
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation

Are Christians called to make a difference in environmental care? What has creation care to do with "loving our neighbours"? An interview with the Global Advocacy and Influencing Director of Tearfund.

 
Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels

An interview with the socio-political representative of the European Evangelical Alliance about how evangelical Christians work at the heart of the European Union.

 
Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church

An interview with Lars Dahle, of the Steering Committee of the Lausanne Movement Global Consultation on Nominal Christianity held in Rome.

 
Testimony: Wildfires near Athens Testimony: Wildfires near Athens

Nico Spies, a Christian worker in Athens, gives details about the wildfires in Greece.

 
Arie de Pater: Refugees deserve a fair and efficient process Arie de Pater: Refugees deserve a fair and efficient process

The Brussels representative of the European Evangelical Alliance offers a Christian perspective on the crisis: “We can’t reduce people to just a number that needs to be controlled”.

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
IFES World Assembly: ‘Messengers of Hope’ IFES World Assembly: ‘Messengers of Hope’

Students, graduates and staff of the global evangelical student movement reflected together on how the books of Luke and Acts apply to today's universities.

 
Christians at work - the missing link in fulfilling the Great Commission Christians at work - the missing link in fulfilling the Great Commission

Photos of the Lausanne Movement Global Workplace Forum, celebrated in Manila.

 
European Freedom Network Bridge 2019 conference European Freedom Network Bridge 2019 conference

Images of the fifth EFN gathering. Experts, activists, counsellors and church leaders met in Pescara, Italy.

 
Glimpses of the ELF 2019 conference Glimpses of the ELF 2019 conference

Evangelical leaders from across Europe meet in Wisla (Poland) to network for mission in a range of fields. The vision is to renew the biblical church and evangelise Europe.

 
‘Small churches, big potential for transformation’ ‘Small churches, big potential for transformation’

Photos of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance’s annual gathering “Idea 2019”, in Murcia. Politicians and church leaders discussed about the role of minorities in society.

 
VIDEO Video
 
Chinese Homecoming Gathering: Thousands say 'we’re one' Chinese Homecoming Gathering: Thousands say 'we’re one'

Christians from China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and North America, from different ethnic backgronds, came together to pray for unity as the body of Christ.

 
How have global missions changed over the last century? How have global missions changed over the last century?

The centre of gravity of Christianity has shifted from Europe to Africa, says Nana Yaw Offei Awuku, Director of the Lausanne Younger Leaders Generation initiative.

 
Christian organisations call to pray for new British Prime Minister Christian organisations call to pray for new British Prime Minister

Representatives of the National Day of Prayer, the Evangelical Alliance and CARE express the need for churches to pray for the new leadership of a country divided by Brexit and other issues.

 
Practical ways to direct our hearts toward spiritual growth Practical ways to direct our hearts toward spiritual growth

“It is not our initiative, it is not working for ourselves, it is gazing to Jesus and responding to Him. It is the language of inclining the heart that we see in Psalms”, said  Peter Mead, Director of Cor Deo.

 
Evangelical students from around the world gather in South Africa Evangelical students from around the world gather in South Africa

A short video summary of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES) World Assembly, July 3-10.

 
GWF in Manila: “Kingdom building requires global collaboration” GWF in Manila: “Kingdom building requires global collaboration”

850 from 108 countries met for the Global Workplace Forum, June 25-29. The gathering was organised by the Lausanne Movement. “Every workplace is a place of ministry”.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.