Is the church (in general) relevant today? Does the church of 2020 have anything to say? It seems many people in our society would say, no, the church does not and is not relevant.
Racial pressures, diversity, political wars, media bias, so much seems to divide our nation today. Did this start in January 2020? No. Did it begin with the election of our current President? No. With the previous President? No. Perhaps since the invention of modern technology of the 20th and 21st centuries, this has been a rising tide.
To read of the stories of the Manhattan Project and the secrecy, commitment, and devotion in the early years of Oak Ridge, Tennessee (Atomic City) are both intriguing and fascinating. These two were connected and resulted in the bombing of Hiroshima, ending World War II. This is where many place the beginning of our current technological age.
It is where the thought came into being that a new technologically driven society would eradicate poverty, isolation, violence, acts of inhumanity, and diversity issues. I do not know if we ever saw much decline in those areas. 2020 is certainly filled with evidence to the contrary. Technology has brought us to a multi-cultural society, bringing the world together both physically and through instant communication.
Is perhaps one of the greatest challenges facing the church today that the church in North America is built largely around a mono-cultural ministry while living in a multi-cultural society? Erwin McManus says the church has “fashioned itself around a monocultural ministry – not only in style and texture but also in its message.”[i]
In the church, we tend to accept only those technologies that allow us to remain in our comfort zone. Those who complain about the introduction of new technologies in the church are sitting in the service with their cell phones in pocket or purse. They drove to church in a high-tech air-conditioned car and will return home, cook a bag of popcorn in a microwave and kick back in their soft (maybe electric) recliner and click the remote to their big-screen HD TV.
2020 has brought new realizations of the good that technology can bring through the church, as in the internet worship services. More than just technology, any step the New Testament church can take, no matter how big or small, to bring the people of various cultures in our community together for Christ, the closer that church will look like the church in Acts.
We no longer live in a mono-cultural society. Our mono-styled methodology and delivery are no longer the drawing card we’ve relied on for 70+ years.
Perhaps more than any time in history, in the 21st century, to gain an audience to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, we must first gain the trust and respect of those with whom we wish to share. How will you change your prayer time today to seek God’s wisdom on being a 1st century Christian in the 21st century?
George Yates is the Church Health Strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, assisting churches and individuals in pursuing God’s purpose for life. Learn more at ALSBOM.org/revitalization.
[i] An Unstoppable Force, Group 2001, pg 53