Thanks to an insightful observation in a recent blog post by James Emery White I have what I think is a good way to frame today’s question. White, the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, is also the author of a number of books (including The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated).
In an article entitled, “Why Baptists Aren’t Baptizing,” White pointed out that:
“Many churches are pursuing an Acts 2 strategy in an Acts 17 world. Meaning they are employing methods designed for the God-fearing Jews of Jerusalem instead of the “nones” on Mars Hill.
The SBC and many other denominations were largely built on four evangelistic strategies: revivals, door-to-door visitation, busing, and Sunday School. All four were anointed for their time, and all four are predicated on the audience being a “God-fearing Jew.” Yet we now live in a post-Christian culture, and strategies must change.”
What world (culture) is your small group ministry designed to operate in?
Is your small group ministry designed to operate in the world (or culture)…
- where everyone is familiar with the Bible?
- where everyone knows the players (i.e., is the Joseph with the amazing technicolor coat the same man as the Joseph who was engaged to Mary?)?
- where everyone believes the Bible is more than a religious fairy tale?
- where Muslims and Buddhists and Hindus live in another country?
- where truth isn’t your truth or my truth and everyone essentially thinks the same things are true?
- where there are clear lines between right and wrong?
- where sexual orientation is something only mentioned on the national evening news?
Sound familiar? If that’s the world (culture) your small group ministry is designed to operate in…you actually have an Acts 2 small group ministry. The reality is we live in an Acts 17 world.
The reality is we live in an Acts 17 world (culture)
We actually live in a world where most are unfamiliar with the Bible, few know the players and the majority believe the Bible is a a fairy tale. We actually live in a world where it’s not unusual for neighbors and co-workers to practice another world religion (or describe themselves as spiritual but not religious). We live in a world where truth is relative and what’s right for me isn’t necessarily right for you. We live in a world where sexual orientation is way more than a local news story.
The culture we live in is an Acts 17 culture. For our small group ministries to ever be more than collections of holy huddles designed to keep the flock safe…we must begin to operate like Paul on Mars Hill. See also, 5 New Assumptions As I Step Further into the 21st Century, Small Group Ministry Roadblock #4: A Myopic Understanding of the Culture and 10 Powerful Benefits of a Thriving Small Group Ministry.
What do you think? Have a question? Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.
Image by Dan Cross