Manuscript 1998
Tags: Christianity and culture; Church; Ministry
Excerpted from A Christian Perspective on the Generation Gap
Related Resources: A Theology of Tradition

The late twentieth century has given rise to dramatic changes in Western society. These changes have occurred so suddenly that New Testament churches have been taken by surprise. Their ability to minister effectively is seriously threatened by the growing perception that their message and activities are irrelevant to contemporary society. Unfortunately, many churches respond to such threats by rooting themselves more firmly in their traditions, and thus make the task of ministry even more difficult.

American church leaders must come to the realization that they minister in a post-Christian society. No longer are the tenets of Christianity commonly understood by the majority of the population. No longer are Christian moral standards upheld by most of society. Twenty-first century ministry is of necessity cross-cultural. The differentiation of various generational cohorts serves to magnify the need for cross-cultural communication.

In these times of social disintegration, the Christian message is as relevant and needed as ever. Yet few Christians seem poised to take advantage of the opportunity. It is my belief that God intends to do a work through local churches in these conditions. The fact that America is post-Christian does not mean that God will no longer move in our midst. The New Testament records the efforts of a worldwide network of churches that succeeded in ministering to cultures that were hostile to Christianity.

It is my conviction that real success will only come when we maintain a dual commitment to biblical authority and cultural sensitivity. Too often we do little more than preserve religious traditions that reflect neither faithfulness to the Scriptures nor an awareness of cultural trends. These deficiencies must be corrected. It is my hope and prayer that they will be, bringing glory to God through the advancement of his church.