Peninsula Community Church
Will the Real Church Please Stand Up?
The Church’s Challenge
October 2, 2011
Ephesians 3:7-8-10 – Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
As we closed out the message from last week we spoke of some concerns in the contemporary church. If those things are true then we must look at “how do we can counteract these issues?”
Let me take a moment and rehearse some of the societal and cultural issues that impact the church today:
- Pluralistic society – First of all we are living in a pluralistic society. The catch word of the day is tolerance. A persistent thread in society today is greater diversity and the pluralism of religion. What has occurred is that during the last century more people are immigrating to the US and by doing so they are bringing their religious, moral and cultural belief. What is occurring here is rather than being folded into our society they are maintaining their beliefs and their ideologies. And, with the liberal move toward acceptance and tolerance we are being asked to accept these beliefs and moral ideologies without any measure of discernment. Another problem that exists is that many churches are being drawn in the religious tolerance and pluralistic mode as well as they adding a little Hinduism, a little new age and a little pop psychology to their message. The problem is that they create confused people.
- We are faced with self-centeredness and individual freedom – The key word here is individualism. In this environment we look out for number without ever engaging within the community of believers. In the church we think of what is in our best interest rather than what is best for the community of believers where we fellowship.
- We are living in a technological age where we interact through media and not face-to face. In this world of technological improvements and inventions we are losing more and more of the face to face connections that we need. We are losing the value of community for it is in community that we grow and learn about God. That is not to say that we cannot grow outside of community but it becomes more difficult for the average person. With the influx of twitter, face book, email, webpages and texting we do not have to meet face to face but rather could in fact go through life with no personal interaction. Please note that I am not opposed to these developments as they can help us spread the Gospel but we still need times where we are face-to-face with others.
- People have become consumers (even of church) – The key phrase here is meet my need. This symbolized by a transient/consumerist environment. A world of consumerism has brought us obsolescence, the rapid passing of fashions and styles, the disappearance of stability, constant innovation, constant revisions and repackaging, the newer product with the future always looming over the present. We shop for the church that will meet our needs rather than finding a church where we can connect and be involved. When there are problems in the church people leave rather than staying and working through their problems and difficulties. Or when that church stops meeting my need I move on.
- The theology of the day is relative truth – The key phrase is you believe what you believe and I will believe what I believe. We have moved from having a set standard for understanding truth to now believing that every person can have a bit of the truth. “There no longer seems to be access to principles which can act as criteria of value for anything else.
It is important for us to recognize these changes and be prepared to bring the gospel to those who find themselves in any one or all of these categories. In so doing we can contextualize the Gospel into the culture but we must always be careful that we do not compromise the Gospel in the process of addressing these changes. We can adapt to the changing environment but we must never compromise the Gospel in the process. When we do this we can begin to lose our impact in the community. As we spoke last week we have seen too many churches comprise the Gospel in order to get more people.
A study of the church would not be complete if we did not take a look at why the church was created by God.
- The church must be God in flesh to the community. The church is God’s creation and He created us to be God in flesh. This does not mean that we become God but rather we become His ambassadors into the world so that we represent Him to others. We are to reach people where they are and in the culture they are in without falling into the sin of those within that culture.
- The goal of the church must be to minister the reign of Christ into the church. We are missing the mark if we do not show forth the reign of Christ in the lives of those who we are reaching.
- The goal of the church must be to minister the reign of Christ into the community in which they have been called to reach.
- The church should be the one who is setting the moral compass for our country.
Paul said it best. His goal of ministering the Gospel was 1) to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and 2) to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, 3) so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
God’s desire is that we be messengers of hope and that we genuinely impact the community for the cause of Christ. It begins with us as individuals living a life of integrity and God centeredness so that all we do will glorify God.