Much has been said and written in recent years, offering up all kinds of criticism of modern day Churches for trading off adherence to the Gospel of Jesus Christ for contemporary methods of communicating it. Interestingly enough the overwhelming majority of this criticism comes by way of other Churches. Typically it comes from Churches that are not growing criticizing Churches that are growing. After all, if a Church is growing, they’ve got to be doing something wrong don’t they?
I have a tendency to go the other way on this one. In fact, I’d go so far as to say if a Church isn’t working hard to be culturally relevant, it isn’t working hard to remain true to the Scriptures! You can’t be radically committed to the Scriptures without being radically committed to communicating the Scriptures in a culturally relevant manner.
It’s an easy statement to make because God has always communicated his message to people in a culturally relevant manner. Language, the time, place, ethnicity, gender, community, governance, and more has always been taken into consideration as the message of God was communicated to a particular audience.
The Apostle Paul, a master missionary, knew this about the heart of God and understood that the Gospel must be contextualized to each specific culture:
#1 Take time to understand the culture of your audience.
“…for as I was walking along I saw your many altars…” Acts 17:23
#2 Be positive, not negative, about the culture of your audience.
“So Paul, standing before the Council, addressed them as follows: ’Men of Athens, I noticed that you are very religious…” Acts 17:22
#3 Use the culture of your audience to connect with the heart of your audience.
“His purpose in all of this was that the nations should seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As one of your own poets says, ‘We are his offspring.’” Acts 17:27-28
#4 Relationally speak truth to your audience.
“For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.” Acts 17:31
About The Author
Paul Alexander is a Pastor, Leader, and Church Strategist. He has spent the last ten years of ministry serving in three mega-church settings as a Youth Pastor, Executive Pastor, and Lead Pastor. He has been married to his wife Lisa for 14 years. Together they have three children Kennedy, Mia, and Lincoln. You can follow Paul on Twitter or at his blog.