Preaching Christ to the Culture

Preaching Christ to the Culture

Tim Keller has a chapter in his book, Preaching, with the title above.  How do you go about preaching Christ to the culture when the culture doesn’t seem to care?

Where I’m Coming From

I grew up during a time when a large majority of people in my culture said that they were Christians.  Not all went to church every week, for sure.  But when asked about their religious affiliation, they would identify with the Christian faith.

In fact, when I felt a call to be more involved in evangelism, I learned methods like The Four Spiritual Laws, and The Kennedy Method of evangelism.  In both of these “systems” of presenting the good news, it was assumed that people understood what it meant to be a “sinner”, and that they felt guilt as a result of that.  They accepted the belief that there is such a thing as absolute truth.  And they believed that they should be “good”, in the sense of living out the values of the Bible.  Preaching Christ to the culture meant that I could explain things to them that they would recognize and understand.

The Culture

Today the story is different.  People don’t feel guilt as a result of their thoughts, words and deeds.   No, let me put that differently. People definitely feel guilty about some things (lies they tell, people they hurt, etc.), but they don’t feel a sense of being guilty before God.  Rarely do you ever hear in my country about “sin”.   And if people do “sin”, they don’t feel a need to go to God to feel forgiven, or released from guilt.

Belief in absolute truth doesn’t exist any more in my culture.  When I think about preaching Christ to the culture I have to realize that people don’t accept what I am proclaiming: that there is one truth, and it is Jesus Christ.  Now if I present the truth about Jesus Christ as God in the flesh come to die for the sins of the world, and that Jesus has become part of me through the presence of the Holy Spirit, the response that is most likely is, “Whatever works for you.”

People today don’t know the Bible, much less the various directives about being good that are found in it.  This is really quite strange, this Biblical ignorance.  When Billy Graham was preaching, he could assume that everyone knew the basic theme of the Bible.  That is just not true today.

Decline of the Church

During this last generation, with the change in the overall culture, the Church here has declined in numbers and in influence.  The number of people who describe themselves as “none”, or, as having no religious affiliation, now equal the number of evangelical Christians in this country.

And the slide continues.  People in the world are skeptical at best, or apathetic at the worst.   Earlier in this blog we looked at what it means to preach evangelistically.   What does that mean for preachers in this kind of catch 22 of an increasingly secular culture and a declining church?

Preaching Christ to the Culture

So how do you go about preaching Christ to the culture when it has drifted so far from where it was?  Maybe your culture is different from mine.  But for the sake of this blog, I want to reflect on a couple of things that I believe need to change if we are going to reach an increasingly secular society with the good news about Jesus Christ.  There are questions that I will try to answer over the next few posts.

preaching judgment to the culture

preaching judgment

Do we preach like the prophets of old, with a confrontation of culture?

Or do we adapt our message to fit the overwhelming narcissism of the society in which we minister?

Do we stop preaching to the culture, and challenge Christians to be salt and light?

What’s the right approach in church, and what is the right approach when I speak with my neighbor or friend?

These are the kinds of questions we are going to explore together.

To encourage your thinking about this, here’s a video from Jeremiah Cry Ministries.  They believe that confrontation is the best approach to culture.

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