A Biblical Commitment Demands Cultural Relevance by Paul Alexander

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.

The Ideal-Sized Congregation? Try 500! by Steve Sjogren

congregationGreat churches come in a variety of sizes, very large ones, medium-sized ones and smaller ones.

Some are frustrated with the mega church scene in our day for a variety of reasons. It is a mistake to discount the vital role mega churches play in God’s strategy for reaching the world. God has in mind to use mega churches in great ways in our day. Above all else he wants to redeem these churches to do great works of evangelism across America. Done rightly such churches can serve as catalysts for the greater community they find themselves in so that churches of all sizes can gain confidence for evangelism.

I believe the most efficient church size is…500.
I stated this conclusion several years ago in a book based on the numerous observations made in that book (Making A Good Church Great, Regal, 2010). I am more convinced now than ever that my original hunch was correct.

Ponder this: it would be more productive to produce 10 life-giving churches of 500 in weekend attendance than in building one mega church of 5,000. I believe there is abundant evidence to make the point that the per capita level of spiritual vitality is usually greater at a medium-sized church versus a single mega one. The individual Believer will likely evidence greater fruit of discipleship in medium sized churches than in mega ones.

Mega church pastors are called by God to accomplish great things.
I don’t wish anything ominous upon the shoulders of my mega church brethren, yet it is a fact that to whom much is given much is required. Those who lead very large congregations will stand before God in the not too distant future to give an account of the way they acted as stewards of the provision of God in their time as the leader of an immense congregation with immense resources.

How did I do as a teacher? Did I boldly and lovingly present to my people the uncompromising truth of the Gospel?
How did I do as a model? Did I show my people the life of Jesus through my life?
Did we do the work of evangelism? Did we consistently, profoundly seek to bring our city to Jesus?
Were the poor shown an abundance of the mercy of God?

Such questions put the fear of the Lord in me. With this burden of responsibility in mind I don’t miss a day of my time of leading a mega church. I pray mercy upon you if you are a pastor in a congregation of this sort.

If you are a pastor in another size congregation you have it easier in many ways. Pray for mega church pastors near you. I hope you will mutually stir up the “love and good deeds” Scripture calls us to walk in.


Steve Sjogren is a veteran church planter and pastor of five churches in he US and Europe, several of which have grown to mega church status. He is currently operating in his ideal role by leading an outward-focused congregation of 500 in the Greater Portland area. He is the author of several best-selling books and many free PDF booklets. The Steve Sjogren Blog is published daily as a focus on evangelism, outreach and the power of the Spirit to accomplish this.

Interview with Mike Slaughter by Steve Sjogren

***Thanks to Tim in Berea, OH who sent over an ultra-optimized video file that’s only 60MB!***

Mike Slaughter shares his heart as it relates to over 30 years of solid ministry at Ginghamsburg Church at Tipp City (Dayton), Ohio. Slaughter reflects upon how his initial church growth strategy misfired. He had to get a vision from on high.

His pathway has been marked by moderate but consistent growth ever since. That same growth has been repeated year after year as he has sought to disciple small numbers of people in his span of care – never more than a dozen people at a time though. Hear how that simple approach to outward care continues to transform the lives of his leaders and his city today.

He shares thoughts on the makings of the church that is destined for outwardness that leads to health. It is an exciting perspective that will lift your heart and mind.

Here’s the MP3 of the interview you can listen to or download. It is 84MB (we’ll get this smaller soon).

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Slaughter’s newest book is in the final creative stages with the publishers:
Change The World – rediscovering the ministry and message of Jesus.
Release date of January, 2010 (Abingdon Press).

Mike Slaughter
Mike Slaughter

About Mike Slaughter
Chief Dreamer, Ginghamsburg Church
Mike Slaughter, lead pastor at Ginghamsburg Church, is the three-decade dreamer of Ginghamsburg Church and spiritual entrepreneur of ministry marketplace innovations.  His life-long passion to reach the lost and set the oppressed free has now made him a tireless and leading advocate for the displaced children, women and men of Darfur, Sudan, named by the U.N. as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today.  Under Mike’s leadership, Ginghamsburg Church has become known as an early innovator of small group ministry, the Church “media reformation” and cyberministry, with the Ginghamsburg website averaging 50,000 visits monthly from around the world.  Since initiating The Sudan Project in January 2005, Ginghamsburg has invested over $3.7 million into humanitarian relief in Darfur.  The resultant agricultural project, child development program and safe water initiative are expanding to reach a quarter of a million Sudanese refugees and villagers.  As a mentor, Mike travels globally to speak and use his “gift of irritation” to equip ministry leaders to minimize brick and maximize mission so that they may fully deploy the mission of Jesus into the world.  Mike is also the author of multiple books for church leaders.  For more information about Mike, visit www.mikeslaughter.com.