February Reflections – David Williams

Well 2017 is here. A good question to ask might be: “What does that mean to my church going forward?” Perhaps a better question might be what does that mean to me personally? We will soon see January and those broken New Year resolutions in our taillights as we slip into February.

February often seems like the month that really doesn’t fit. No major holidays; I think someone once threw in Valentine’s Day and President’s Day just so we would have SOMETHING in February. It is a month that generally brings our worst weather, a lot of cabin fever and we will still be a month or two away from those warm spring days. Many people would be happy if we could pass by February altogether.

Yet I have always believed that February is a great time for serious spiritual reflection and assessment of where we are and where God might want us to be. Churches, who care, can never see February (or any other month for that matter) as a time to kick back and relax. When I fired up my computer to begin work on this article, I was immediately halted with a notification that a “new update” must be installed. Every year auto manufacturers bring out new models and engineering concepts. My wife and I were talking a few days ago about how our kitchen is becoming dated.   My point is that life doesn’t stand still. God has given us a finite time to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20). With each generation that commission to reach the world becomes more challenging.

While we accept as normal that over time cultures change, churches often seem oblivious to that fact. Look, here is the reality: We don’t dress like we did in the 1950’s, we don’t drive the same cars, we don’t watch the same TV programs; yet somehow, many seem content to do church in the same way as the 1950’s. Same music, same preaching style, same out of tune piano and stained glass windows. The result is predictable. Church membership is shrinking.

In 2017 Christian leaders have an opportunity to take a fresh approach to evangelism. Core doctrine can never change but the way we present it needs to be focused, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-generational.   So how can one church find that magic formula to engage, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials. The answer isn’t an easy one.

The worship service is certainly the most important hour of the week. If Christian churches cannot make an impression here, then it will be difficult going forward. The music needs to be engaging with a broad generational appeal. It must also be good. It doesn’t matter as much whether you have a choir or a small music team but they must be prepared and spiritually gifted for music.

The heaviest burden is on the Pastor. Pastors need to carefully select a message that brings biblical principles and life’s realities together. The focus must always be on God’s grace but that doesn’t mean every message needs to be a reiteration of a gospel tract. Old methods, the “sermon” format, the red-faced angry preacher pounding the pulpit may have worked in the early 20th century but they become a laughable caricature today. Messages that are more conversational and offer a little humor or bible inspired story telling go a long way to reaching people of all generations. Nobody ever said that Church cannot be fun as well as engaging.

As important as the worship service is, it in itself will not be sufficient to draw together people of different cultures or generations. Many churches have addressed that need by establishing smaller “life groups” that meet at different times and places throughout the week. For example:

  • Singles and young couples life groups
  • Seniors life groups
  • Men’s and Women’s life groups
  • Youth Groups

Life groups help to build community and engage new members.

It is important during this time of reflection and planning that February affords us, to look around at other churches and Christian ministry activities and see where God is at work in our community and our world and then pray about how we can be a real part in that work.

Source : thepostmodernchristian.com