Church

Cross-Cultural Gospel

multicultural-church-family

There is a big push in many churches these days to make our churches ethnically diverse. I was reading a social media post by a local pastor and he was speaking about how we need to make our worship services “cross-cultural” so that our churches could be “ethnically diverse.” And on one level I believe many of us would give a hearty “Amen!” to these two thoughts. On the surface these things sound good and true. And lest you misunderstand me, nothing gives me greater joy than to walk into a church and see a group of people of all colors, backgrounds, generations, and even shapes and sizes, for this is indeed a foretaste of Heaven…But as I reflect on this thought…of making our worship services “cross-cultural” to make our churches “ethnically diverse” I can’t help but think we might be missing something…

The fact is, we don’t need to make our services cross-cultural. The Gospel IS already cross cultural. Frankly, it disturbs me when churches say we are aiming for this group, or this demographic. The call of a church is to preach the Gospel to the area in which they are called to. If you have been called to a ethnically diverse city, then yes your church should look ethnically diverse. But, the church should resemble the city/area to which it is called. If you are called to a small town filled with older white farmers, then your church is probably going to be made up of older white farmers. If you are called to a college town, then your church is probably going to be made up of mostly younger college kids…I think you get what I’m saying.

My point is…The Gospel is cross cultural. Jesus is cross cultural. If you faithfully preach Jesus and His Gospel as a church to the place where God has called you AND live it out, then I believe people will come and I believe people will be saved and lives will be changed. Paul says in both Ephesians 2 and Galatians 3 that we are all one in Christ, the walls that separate us according to cultures or ethnicity have been broken down. People are reconciled and united in Christ!

So, we don’t need to make the Gospel anything other than what it is…The power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.(Romans 1:16) We don’t need to make the Gospel cross-cultural…it already is. Our goal is to be faithful to the Gospel, not try to change it or mold it into something else in an effort to attract certain people groups to our church so that we can point out to others how diverse our congregations are. When we do these things, we end up changing the Gospel or watering it down, and sometimes end up with a false Gospel which has no power at all to save.

We don’t need to strive to be cross-cultural, but we do need to strive to have a culture of the cross. It is my conviction if this is true of us, then God will work powerfully through us in our communities to draw all peoples to Himself. And depending on our locale, this is going to look different for us all.

A Lord’s Day Prayer

valley

A Lord’s Day prayer as we head off to worship:

“We are going to the house of prayer, pour upon us the spirit of grace and supplication; We are going to the house of praise, awaken in us every grateful and cheerful emotion; We are going to the house of instruction, give testimony to the Word preached, and glorify it in the hearts of all who hear; may it enlighten the ignorant, awaken the careless, reclaim the wandering, establish the weak, comfort the feeble-minded, make ready a people for their Lord.”

Shared FromValley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions

The Joy of Fellowship

“…that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” (1 John 1:3-4 ESV)

“Fellowship”

Fellowship is a bit of an under appreciated word these days. Fellowship I think is also an under appreciated aspect of our new life in Christ. For those of us who read Scripture and who have spent lots of time in the Bible or have had it preached to us on a regular basis…I think we sometimes lose the power of the words inspired by the Spirit of God and written down for our edification. To read those two verses above should awe us. To read that we have fellowship with God the Father and his son Jesus Christ should drop us to our knees in wonder and amazement…

As I said, the word “fellowship” has fallen on hard times in our day. Even amongst us Christian folk, even though we hear it quite often, the word has lost its power. Perhaps a way to help us get a handle on the word in a way that helps us see the beauty of the statement is to use the word “relationship”. The two words certainly aren’t exact synonyms, but I think there is enough correlation to help us get a grasp as to what John is trying to get us to see.

Most of us know how the story goes…Our first parents, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God and brought the curse of sin into the world. A curse that all of us are under. There are many consequences that we experience as a result of the curse, but the one from which all the others flow is broken fellowship with God. A broken relationship…And because this relationship with God is broken, every other relationship is broken.

Sin is the reason you and your spouse argue. Sin is the reason your parents drive you nuts. Sin is the reason your kids sound like they want to murder each other. Sin is the reason your church can’t decide on the color of their carpet, or agree on a worship style. Sin ruined every thing…and one of the primary ways it did that was that it destroyed relationships and how we relate(fellowship) with each other…and of course all of this springs forth from the fact that sin destroyed our relationship and the way in which we relate(fellowship) with God.

That’s the bad news…

But the good news is that Jesus Christ came and lived and died and rose again.(more on this later)

Because of the work of Jesus, we now have fellowship with God the father, His Son Jesus…and amazingly we can now enjoy fellowship with each other.(again more on this later)

Part of our new relationship with God is the fact that we want to share Him and the glories of His Son and His Gospel with the world. We desire to bring others into this relationship that we have with the God of the universe.(think about that statement for a minute…we have a relationship with the God of the universe. WOW!) Nothing gives us more pleasure than telling someone about Jesus, and seeing them embrace his truths for themselves. At least this is how it should be…

And this is what John was telling his church. We’re writing these things to you, “so that you too may have fellowship with us”. And what fellowship do we enjoy…”our fellowship is with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.”

That is why John is writing these words by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “so that our joy may be complete…” Telling others about Christ, seeing them begin to follow the Way of Jesus, experiencing that fellowship with God, with Jesus, and with them…that is the fulfillment of our joy as a Christian. Certainly our joy is in Christ and Christ alone…but through Christ we get to experience immeasurable joy as we share our lives and faith with other believers…

We will talk more about what this looks like next time…