No one doubts that today’s word changes fast. We know, for instance, that there will be a new upgrade on the iphone, or any other gadget for that matter, available by the time we bring home what we thought to be the latest version. We can get information faster than we ever have before. But what of the greatest and most significant information? What of The Good News? How is Christ’s love communicated in our world of fast-paced communication? Christians, let’s evaluate.
My dad showed me this video a few weeks ago and I just had to share it. It’s long, I know, but it’s so worth it. I’ve watched it twice, it moved me so. I took a page and a half of notes.
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In the video, Gary Hamel reaches out to Christians urging them to keep up with the times. He is a creative consultant for Fortune 500 companies and has recently taken on a role of addressing Christian leaders about the need to develop new ideas and methods for sharing God’s message. He suggests that if Dell can build a website where anyone can suggest ideas for improvement, why can’t the church? God created us creative, and therefore we should apply it to evangelism with gusto. We should think, as Hamel puts it, about evangelism from the outside in. We should try to figure out how better to reach the people who need to hear. We need to develop ways of outreach that are new, and not just for the sake of being new, but rather so that it changes paradigms and truly alters the way the world thinks of the Christian church. Hamel reminds us that everyone thought there was only one way to buy furniture until Ikea. Why should not the church be constantly evaluating and reinventing its approaches to best reach our audience?
Hamel says that churches ought to be this island of spiritual vitality in a sea of secular indifference. Of course, we know this is often not the case. He says, “We are not any different from our neighbors and non-Christians know it.” We believers frequently want to outsource evangelism, so to speak, as if “evangelism experts” are the only people to pursue the great commission. Hamel considers that the typical church go-er will go to his grave without introducing anyone to Jesus. If we honestly reflect on our faith and our actions, most of us will end up asking ourselves why it is we feel so hindered in evangelism. In all truth, why aren’t we busting to share the unconditional love offered to us by the creator of the universe? This question is not meant as a guilt trip, but a motivator. Let’s remember how wonderful a gift it is to have a relationship with Jesus. The Kingdom of heaven truly is a treasure so great that we give all we have away just for the pure joy of being with Jesus: 44“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” (Matthew 13)
Hamel says that the greatest problem in the church is INERTIA. I love this metaphor. I feel it hits at the truth with precision. We as a church body are indeed slow to change. Our goal should be to sit at the forefront of culture making, and not to hold back wondering when ineffective methods might come back into fashion. After all, as Hamel makes clear, “We do not worship tradition. We worship the risen Lord! Jesus still wants to challenge the status quo.” He reminds us of the wineskins parable. The old must make way for the new if the old no longer functions.
In the video, Hamel articulates many practical routes churches should take in trying to be more innovative and creative about outreach and service. He says churches should remember that renewal begins with us. We should resist the temptation to take refuge in denial. We can constantly generate more options, new ideas, and take advantage of new opportunities. Prayerfully we will challenge old habits (NOT beliefs, mind you, but our outreach strategies). Through it all, we should strive to be about acceptance, humility, honesty (we too struggle with doubts), courage (we can take a punch, ask a tough question), and vulnerability. We should also bathe the whole process in prayer.
I highly recommend this video whether or not you are officially involved in a ministry. God calls each of us to spread the good news to the ends of the earth, so let’s get going.
“18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” –Matthew 28.