A culture is a collection of ideas. And from these ideas, come beliefs, values, products, and services. As pastors, we must ask ourselves, what does it look like to begin engaging our culture with the Gospel? After all, we have a responsibility to equip our congregants to be able to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5b). Take every thought, every idea, captive to obey Jesus.
We are confronted with our culture’s ideas every single day and most of the time we don’t even realize it. I recently began reading Trevin Wax’s new book, This is Our Time: Everyday Myths in Light of the Gospel and in it, he provides 3 necessary frameworks for engaging our culture with the gospel. I highly recommend you get the book. But in the meantime, I encourage you to begin using his frameworks to help your congregation take every thought captive to obey Christ.
3 Necessary Frameworks for Engaging our Culture With the Gospel
Many of the people who step foot in churches all across the world have been more influenced by the culture they live in than the gospel of Christ. They haven’t done it on purpose, but it has happened nonetheless. We must help them see three specific things when it comes to the ideas our culture creates and promotes.
1. Expose the Lie
Our culture’s ideas contain all sorts of lies. The prevailing idea that money equals happiness is a flat-out lie. But more money and more stuff are pictured as things to satisfy and things that represent the good life. It’s easy to begin believing that even the smallest things we desire will give us a little piece of happiness pie.
Think about how much the technology in our palm has changed our lives. We stare at those little screens on and off throughout the day because we have bought into the lie that by keeping up with social media and knowing all the latest news stories, we will stay connected. But it doesn’t connect us more, it disconnects us. And it’s sad to say, but I’m rather guilty of this myself. I’ve made some changes, but it’s still a struggle. There’s always something to read, watch, or listen to. But it’s doing more damage than it is helping.
Our culture creates and promotes many ideas that are lies at their foundation. We must expose the lies in them. But we shouldn’t stop there.
2. Identify the Longing
Our culture’s ideas have longings behind them. The irony in all of it is that our culture never offers an idea that satisfies the longing that it was created from.
We pile up money because we long to be secure. We buy the latest and greatest stuff because we long to be admired. We become workaholics because we long to be successful. We stare at our phones, liking, commenting, and posting because we long to be known.
Many of us and many of the people we lead have never considered why we do the things we do. But it’s healthy to know the longing behind the lie we have bought into.
But let’s not stop there.
3. Shine the Light
Trevin Wax, talking about what his book is about, said this:
We need to shine the light of the gospel on the stories that animate our beliefs and practices, so that lies are exposed and longings are satisfied. We must be able to say not only “this is right and this is wrong,” but also “the gospel is better.”
The beautiful thing about all of life is that the gospel is the answer. The gospel is able to demolish all of the lies our culture creates and promotes. The gospel, unlike our culture, is able to identify and satisfy all our longings. It is only in exposing the lies, identifying the longings, and shining the light that we are able to take every thought and idea captive to obey Christ.
Pastor, we must equip our congregants to be the people of God who are actively being the salt and light of the world. We must pray that they would become saturated, not with our culture’s ideas, but with the gospel of Jesus Christ – the best idea known to man.
The gospel tells us that in Christ, we are secure, not just in this world, but in the next too. The gospel tells us God is jealous for us because He knows He is what’s best for us. The gospel tells us that we can’t do it, but Jesus can. The gospel tells us that we are deeply known and will never be alone.
The gospel is better.
For Preaching and For Leading
Use these frameworks in your preaching, but not just there. Lead in a way that lifts up the truths of the gospel and not the lies of this world. Show people that the best way to lead is to serve. Show people that kindness beats dominance every time. Train your leaders to use these frameworks in their ministries.
Three Resources to Recommend
I highly recommend you grab a copy of This is Our Time: Everyday Myths in Light of the Gospel by Trevin Wax.
In addition to reading Trevin’s book, I have also recently found a new podcast that is centered around this very thing. It is called the Every Thought Captive Podcast. You can find it on iTunes, your podcasting app of choice, or SoundCloud. In it, Ozark Christian College professors Michael DeFazio, Doug Welch, and Chad Ragsdale talk theology and culture and the intersection of the two.
If you want to explore how we can continue engaging our culture with the gospel in specific ways, I write about this very thing on my personal blog: brandonkelley.org. I’d love to have you join the conversation over there.
How Are You Engaging Our Culture With the Gospel?
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