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Ministry in Contemporary Society, Lesson 002

Christian Ministry, Free Course, Lesson 002

Ministry in Contemporary Society

Christians live in the world.  They are called to present the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who do not know him.  The question at hand is not intended to ask to what extent Christians can compromise with the world.  Rather, it asks how the Christian can reach the world. 

The Christian mission is always defined by scripture, as is the face of the church.  The prevailing culture becomes the environment in which the mission takes place.  Culture itself is neither good nor bad or friend nor foe.  The universality of the gospel suggests that the gospel is not inherently an enemy of culture.  It is what that culture embraces that determines how the Christian should work within it.  Cultural forms can expedite missions through its established rules for human routines.  However, the nature of the gospel may dictate confrontation with culture as was the case with Jesus and as circumstances in Crete (Titus 1) and Ephesus (Acts 19) suggest.

The standard for measuring culture is the gospel itself.  At those points where culture does not violate the prescriptions of the gospel it is no threat to ministry.  It may even enhance ministry.  For example, in a society where people generally retire to sleep at an early hour, it would be improper for a Christian to ignore this cultural form and attempt to visit during one’s sleep period.  Ministry is enhanced by defining accepted norms for routine behavior, opportune times for worship and the like.  But at those points where the culture upholds concepts that can lead to a compromised gospel, then these should be either confronted or ignored.  For example, the church cannot run a brothel for the support of its mission program just because it may be legal within that society and neither can it become a totally democratic institution where all members vote on what is right and what is wrong, as they do within democratic societies.

Even the church culture can have an effect on the Christian mission.  The culture can play a role in determining ministry’s priorities.  As was the case in Corinth, the church culture was exerting a bad influence.  Circumstances generated within that culture set the agenda for what became a priority for Paul when he wrote the church at Corinth. The gospel may be permissive even beyond the local church culture, as Paul pointed out to his Jewish friends about the keeping of days (Romans 14; Colossians 2).  Paul found freedom to adapt to different cultural forms, when he deemed it expedient to do so in the interest of preaching the gospel (1 Cor. 9:19-23).

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4 Comments on "Ministry in Contemporary Society, Lesson 002"

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  1. Indeed culture of the society where ever do Christians live, in past and in present days deeply effect on members of the church.Looking at Christians in Latin America-Africa USA- India-Europe-and rest of Asia one can see that each has added some of their pagan think to it.Let us recall Apostle Paul preaching and teaching in Greece.The habit to offer food for the souls of departed ,it was told of those habits 2000 years ago.Now ,back in 1955 this habits where indeed still in practice among Slavic people.Greeks do belong to Old Slavic tribes .

  2. Pastor Dave says:

    In my humble opinion I believe that things are the way they are in the church b/c the church has gone soft. There is no teaching of the truth of the Bible anymore. The only teaching that we have in the church anymore is the feel good teaching. The kind of teaching that everyone wants to hear. The church has gotten away from the True Spiritual Teaching of Gods Word b/c of man made doctrines. And through man made doctrine came feel good messages. This is why me as a Pastor am not allowed to teach in my church….instead I must listen to another Pastor teach something that the doctrine of the church is going to approve of.

  3. JSTAN says:

    mission is to transform not conform to the world. know the culture for not all cultures are wrong. take the right practices and reject the ones which contradict the gospel. amen

  4. Rev Dr Howard says:

    How may the Christian reach the world? One has to look at the “face of the church,” the Word, which is not an immediate clash to culture. Culture takes place in the world that surrounds each Christian, and it may not be measured to the extent of how good it is, however gospel may indicate confrontation with certain culture necessary. When culture does not violate principles found in the Word, it yields no threat to ministry. Yet certain situations may yield priority to scripture over the influence of culture.

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