From Representation to Participation

Group of multicultural young friends hanging out on a patio

Jesus recast the gospel to meet the understanding of the people/culture in front of Him. To Nicodemus, He said, “a man must be born again.” To the rich young ruler who asked, “What must I do…” Jesus said, “go and sell all that you have.” To another man, He said, “let the dead bury the dead.” Circumstances, cultures, generations, vary, the truth of God’s word remains the same. Jesus was not changing the truth of the only way to heaven. Rather, He was applying the same truth to the heart of the person’s he was speaking to.

The church today must learn to do the same. We live in an ever-changing culture that needs the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is the only way to heaven. Leonard Sweet wrote years ago at the turn of the 21st century, “The shift of postmodern culture from representation to participation requires a transition from performance modes to participatory modes…”

The need for this shift today is even greater than when Sweet wrote it. The people of all active generations today need participatory models and practices. Teaching the truths and principles of scripture is vital and a must. However, teaching facts and figures alone never changed a life. The church today must move to a participatory model. Not only in the worship services and inside events of the church (bringing a dish to a potluck), our model must be demonstrative of actual living 24/7 outside the walls of the church with the immediacy of people experiencing Christ.

People in our churches today need to be given examples and opportunities to practice the Jesus lifestyle. When today’s people of all generations truly understand that they have something that God wants to use, and are empowered and encouraged in the use of those, God will work wonders. Pray for the utilization of your own giftings then begin sharing how God opened your eyes and began a new work through you.

People will serve out of their passion. Think about it, you are not passionate about something you do not like or that you have no skill for. God gives you passion for the things He has gifted you. We only need to help people understand their God-given passions and how to connect those passions to ministry that will lead people to see who God really is and wants to be in their life.

If you preach or teach, teach on unearthing passion and finding your niche for fulfilling God’s purpose in your life. Give people ideas on how to develop and use their passions for God’s kingdom work. When God designed your purpose in life, he also gifted you with a passion to fulfill that purpose. Churches flourish when her members unearth and develop their passions for serving God by serving others.

Today’s generations hunger for finding purpose. There is no greater purpose than the one God created you for. The people in your church family need to be offered opportunities to unearth their God-given passions and giftings to fulfill His purpose for their lives. Instead of attempting to force certain ministry opportunities on the everyone, give them the opportunities to make decisions, choices and commitments to serve God as He has gifted each one. In this you will move your church members from representation to participation.

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