Wednesday, October 3, 2018
1. Social Media-The options of blogs, Facebook, tweeter, and Instagram changed how we communicate. There may have been a time when you could pastor without using these tools but not today. You must be online to be a good Shepherd and know where the pulse of the culture is.
2. Widespread Use of Cell Phones and Text Messaging- This has also changed the way we communicate. We can now have change plans instantly. I think this has led to lower commitment levels. Also, text messaging has allowed for an exchange of information without commitment to talking to one another. Sometimes this is good, but other times important communication cues are lost in translation.
3. Overcoming Legalism –For many years living a holy lifestyle was stressed, but sometimes at the expense of getting the gospel right. Many of those in my generation, Gen X and younger, need help to recover from the scars of legalism. I once wrote a blog answering a question about if it is ok to have a tattoo. I didn’t think much would come of it, but it resulted in the most viewed blog I have written to date. We have to remove the legalistic packing the gospel has been wrapped in if we are going to be effective in reaching out to others.
4. The influence of 24-hour news and shock jock radio –I remember when 24-hour news was kicked off during the 9-11 attacks. I think that the constant bombardment of news, mostly bad has affected our churches and communities. In the culture, the divide between the right and left are more distant than ever. And both sides are becoming more militant in their stance and lack of toleration for the other side. In fact, this has led to an inability to disagree on anything agreeably. The only groups are those who are for us, and those against. The effects of these groups continue to polarize our culture and churches.
5. Waiting longer to join a local Church-It is now not uncommon for an individual or couple to wait up to 1 or 2 years before they enter a church. This may be because of past hurts, and sometimes they just want to “serve God” not joining the membership at all.
6. The pornification of our society- No longer only accessible in movies and magazines, Pornography is now piped in through phones, iPad, PCs, and tablet devise. Also, it is no longer just for men.
7. Increase in Drug Additions- When I first entered into the ministry the empathies was on staying away from alcohol, but ask any police officer today, and they will tell you pills and harder drug additions are a bigger issue. Our area has one of the highest NAS baby births in the USA.
Monday, October 1, 2018
- Fear of the Unknown- In our area the tried and true methods are the most trusted, but the tried and true deliver the same results. Innovation is not valued highly, part of the mountain culture I assure. I think that if you were to ask the average Carter County resident what they fear, they would say "leaving this area." This would be due to the fact that they don't know if they could survive outside this county. Our community in many ways remains in a time warp, lagging some 20 or more years behind many of urban settings in the US. Sometimes this is good, but sometimes it hurts us.
- Love of Comfort- In many ways this goes hand and hand with the first one. I think that people don't want to try new ministries or models of ministry because they are comfortable with what they have. While we are all guilty of this, it is especially true in this church. We all love comfort food, and to churches there are comfort ministries: Three to thrive, Sunday School, etc... The mistake made here is to mistake the practice for the biblical principle.
- Inability to Relate or Understand the Unreached- Flowing from an inward focus, the inability to see what the church does through the eyes of someone who is lost. Our Church needs to understand who the unreached are, what they are thinking, where they gather, and why they are not coming to church. The longer we are in church, this gets harder to do.
- A Balance between "Come and See" and "Go and Tell" outreach- Perhaps it is because the church has spent so much time and energy on its building or perhaps it is bad teaching. But we need a balance between inviting them to come and see what we have to offer, with going and telling what Jesus has to offer. The church often times doesn't see the value in going and telling. The attitude is, “if they want us, they know where to find us same place we have been for 75 years.” Praise God this is not what Christ's attitude towards us!
- UnGodly Marriages-These are burning up the church. Marriages that are in trouble. Dealing with them takes a great amount of time and energy, sucking life out of a pastor and church. Even marriages we think are “OK” are not as good as we hoped. It is life draining to deal with these. Usually by the time they reach my desk the “eggs are out of the cart and smashed on the floor.” Can we as pastors put the eggs back together?
- Lack of Commitment to the Local Church –People see the church in one of two ways: either “what can it do for me” or “what can I do for her?” For me this is one of the most cutting. I have had to watch people I would have once counted as very good friends leave the church over petty issues. I often think they are trying to solve internal problems with external solutions. I am not sure how to help them and minister to them when: 1. I am hurt by their actions and lack desire to minster to them, 2. They don’t want me to minister to them in some cases.
- Legalism-Legalism is a “peculiar kind of submission to God’s law, something that no longer feels the personal divine touch in the rule it submits to.” And just as in the story of the Prodigal Son, we are much more likely to find the legalist near the Father’s house than out away form it. Legalism involves superimposing moral standards that are either non existent in the word or of minor issue. Joyful holy living has been replaced by something more ugly. The unreached pick up on this and run from it.