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Monday, October 29, 2012

Thinking Like a Missionary

I have heard so many Christians tell me how church was when they were children and expect today's parents to raise their children as they were raised. They just can't understand why that may not be possible.

It seems that time is traveling faster than it has ever traveled before. Things have been changing faster than they ever have before. The world is more accessible. (On this date I have one daughter in Singapore and another in Kenya.) Technology which was supposed to free us has imprisoned us. Twenty-four hour per day news stations have become the norm. Most children have the opportunity to study, train for or perform in activities which would have been unavailable a few short years ago.

A stay-at-home parent has become the exception rather than the rule. There are very few men who work at home. There are many who work somewhere in the world and may not see their families for days, weeks or even months at a time. The gathering for the family meal is rare because of the schedules for each person in the family. Cable television provides hundreds of stations. The internet provided instant access to movies, youtube, worldwide communications and information that cannot be controlled by large media corporations.

Sunday is no longer considered a day of worship for most. Many will work on Sunday as if it is any other day of the week. Many others will see Sunday as their only day they can spend for themselves. Even church members look for opportunities to miss church on Sundays. Everyone stays home if one person in the family gets sick. That wouldn't happen if they all had tickets to a play or football game but church has lost its meaning to many.

So, it makes no sense for people to say: "Church services must be held at 11:00 AM Sundays. You will be here on time, dressed as we have prescribed and have your children sit quietly while we sing, take up and offering and sleep through most of the sermon. Do not let your children wake us up!" Churches who think they can keep the status quo are dying.

Churches must change their thinking. They can no longer expect people to move into town visit a couple of churches before deciding which one to join and be there every time there is an event. Most people weren't attending a church before they moved. Nothing has changed to make them want one now. A simple post card or letter from the pastor won't entice most people to visit a church. It will take much more. They are very likely to avoid any place that tells them that they will have to come at a certain time, dress in a certain way and have abnormal children who sit quietly while someone talks.

Churches must stop thinking they can dictate how things should be and do whatever they can to reach people with the gospel. It may mean changing service times or relaxing the expectation of how people should dress. It may mean accepting people who let their children fidget and ask a fair amount of questions during the sermon. It may changing the music style so that there is more liveliness and excitement to grab the attention of a people who have been raised on media stimulation.

The members of each church must start thinking like missionaries. They have to give up their own desires to reach those who do not know Christ. They have to do what they can and change what they can in order to win some.

I notice lost people more and more as I get older. I see that my own eternity is coming. I know that each person has an eternity. I want people to know the joy of Christ and the eternity of His presence. I do not want the eternity of hell for anyone. I am willing to act any way necessary to win some to Christ.

This is not a new idea.

1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (NIV) 19 Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

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