Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Cultural Relevance

Cultural relevance is a common desire among many churches today. The old saying that the methodology may change but our theology never changes has become a battle cry for many pastors and church leaders over the years. This attitude is very beneficial for the church. It is important for us to seek to present the gospel in a manner that is relevant to the people in our communities.

However, there is more to it than just using a praise band for worship and using up-to-date media. For many churches cultural relevance actually means being relevant to only one particular group of people. As a result these churches tailor their styles to that particular group. But what if your community has different types of people? What if being culturally relevant requires different methodologies for the same church?

Could it be that we are currently in the process of raising up another generation that views the church and worship as something that must be tailored specifically to them? We have already been through this once before with the “worship wars” of the last two decades. During this times churches would try to be more “culturally relevant” by adding various instruments in worship or using power point for songs instead of hymnals. As a result some were pleased by the changes while others felt like the church was going in the wrong direction. Why the disagreement? I think it stems from people who are more focused on their selfish desires than on worshipping God.

My fear is that churches who seek to be culturally relevant to only one specific community will raise up more people who are focused on themselves. I am afraid we are catering to the mentality that says, “I can only go to a church that seeks to reach my specific niche in life.”

Instead of continuing to build churches that only reach one segment of the population we need to teach people to be culturally relevant and not just churches as a whole. We must get individuals to adopt Paul’s mindset that we are to be “all things to all people.” By doing so we can allow the church to be what we see in the New Testament, a collection of different people from different cultures. Not one homogeneous unit of cultural relevance.

So what does this look like? I see a church full of people who understand that things such as worship styles, dress codes, building design, etc. are not as important as reaching people. These church members are willing to not have everything in the church exactly as they might prefer. They understand that these methodologies are preferences that vary from person to person. Instead of bickering over non-essentials they are more concerned about making sure their theology is sound and the message is presented in a manner that is culturally relevant to multiple groups of people. In order to do this, they must be willing to sacrifice their own personal preferences from time to time.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Why Church Planting? Why Seattle?

So why have we decided to start a church? After all aren’t there enough churches out there already? Surely I should just go find one of the many churches that need a pastor and settle in there. These may be the thoughts of some when the subject of church planting is discussed but these thoughts are not based on facts.

It is true that there are many churches already in existence. However, if you take a moment to drive around on a Sunday morning you will see that there are still many more people who are not involved in church. In Tennessee, where I currently serve, there are about 6 million people. We currently have about 3000 Baptist churches for these 6 million people. Obviously there is still a need for more churches in order to effectively reach the current population.

As a result we must continue the process of planting new churches to reach our communities. I have become convinced that church planting is the main way in which God will spread His Kingdom. Although things like short term mission trips and parachurch ministries are effective they cannot replace the ongoing ministry of the local church. Therefore, if we are going to see the gospel impact society we must be willing to invest in the practice of starting more churches.

Which brings me to another question some may ask. Why Seattle? Although there is still a need for more churches to be planted in the South there is an even greater need in the Northwest. Recently I visited my home state of Texas and toured around the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. As I drove around on a Sunday morning I was amazed at the large amount of churches that were literally everywhere. Each of these churches had parking lots full of cars. Each of these churches were filled with people in their pews.

Seattle on the other hand is a totally different scene. If you drive around the area you will see very few churches and consequently very few people in church on a Sunday morning. In the Seattle/Tacoma area there are between 4 and 5 million people. Only 4% of this population claims to be Christian. There are only 150 Baptist churches for this vast population. So, as you can see there is a definite need for churches in the Pacific Northwest.

So, that is a large reason why I feel called to start a church in the Seattle area. The need is there and I believe God is calling more and more people to respond to this need and take the gospel to every part of our nation.

Accepting God's Call

Well, it has definitely been a long while since I have posted on the ol’ blog. A lot has been going on in my life and the life of my family since my last post. For the past several months Tina and I have been contemplating the decision to start a church in Seattle, WA. A few weeks ago we officially decided to head to the Pacific Northwest to plant a church.

This has been one of, if not the most difficult decisions Tina and I have made. Seattle is one of the more difficult places to plant a church. It is very far from all of our family and close friends. However, Tina and I cannot escape the call of God we see in Scripture. As I read through God’s Word I read of a God that calls us out. He calls us to take the gospel to places where people have not heard of the saving grace offered in Jesus Christ. He calls us to surrender our life to His lordship and control. We have been reminded over the last several months that this life is not our own. It is not our goal to be comfortable and to build up treasures here on earth.

So, with fear and trembling, we continue forward towards what we believe God is calling us to do. I must note that although we are nervous about this endeavor we are also excited about what God is going to do in and through our ministry in the Northwest. We are excited about the possibility of impacting the lives of people who do not know about Jesus and impacting a culture for the kingdom of God.

If you would like more information on the specifics of our church plant and how you can partner with us go to