Monday, December 09, 2013
Awwww, But I LIke Cute!
The time for cute is over.All I would add is that int eh rush to get "back to basics" of the gospel. Do not forget maturity. In truth much of Christian maturity is simply learning the same basic gospel lessons more deeply. For example, moving our confessional practices to deeper and more personal levels. But that fact notwithstanding part of the problem sensed here is simply that we preach the "good news" of salvation, perhaps even salvation lite, but we then take no one anywhere else.
That's the thought that crossed my mind and came out of my mouth during a recent breakout session with Lutheran colleagues from southern Ohio.
One member of our group shared the impact on him of some polling he'd read about done among people leaving Easter Sunday worship services. A high number of them, people who had presumably just heard the good news of Easter--that God the Son, Who had taken on human flesh and died on a cross, taking humanity's rightful punishment for sin, and then, on Easter, rose from the dead in order to give all who turn from sin and believe in Him everlasting life with God--had been proclaimed, sung about, and shouted, could not articulate what Easter was about.
Truth is, what my colleague shared did not surprise me, not because I think that the average worshiper on Easter Sunday is stupid.
The problem is that we who are called by God through the Church to preach and teach about Jesus routinely make the wrong assumption. We forget that the ground has shifted beneath us.
In North America and Europe, we live in a post-Christian culture. But we assume that most people who pass through the doors of our church buildings know the content of the Gospel--the good news--about Jesus and the new life He offers freely to those who believe in Him. Our job, we assume is to simply remind people of this gospel in compelling, entertaining, painless (cute) ways, being careful not to take up so much time that people are late for the Sunday brunches at local restaurants.
But cute isn't working any more.
approach. It seemed to me that this strange convergence in our thinking, born of prayer and study, had the same source: God the Holy Spirit was telling us to forget about cute and simply proclaim the Good News about Jesus, to assume nothing, to take nothing for granted.
To tell you the truth, this moment of desperation and of wrestling with why the Church is needed and how Christ is essential for every human being, is exhilarating and liberating. In the past few years, my preaching has changed. For most of my twenty-eight years as a pastor, my sermon preparation has, to some extent, been weighed down by two questions, the very asking of which, was limiting: How can I get their attention? How can I make it palatable?
Now though, the Holy Spirit seems to be guiding me and others who want to share the Gospel to ask a different question: What do people need to hear?
That very question liberates the pastor from being a marketer to become a preacher and teacher.
It also drives me to God's Word for direction and to God's Spirit for wisdom more than ever before.
We need to make mature Christians to make more mature Christians.
Christian basics maturity