We all live in a time and place, a context. In our sermon passage this Sunday, 1 John 4:1-6, John encourages people in his church to bring the truth of Christ to their context. As Christians, if we want to bring the gospel to our neighbors, we have to be students of culture. We need to understand our context.
That’s why, at the Acts 29 conference in Reno a few weeks ago, I found Hunter Beaumont’s talk so helpful. He spoke on “Engaging Post-Christian Culture” and gave some key insights for us to understand how to do so.
1) Speak the gospel into the spiritual anxiety of the culture.
He makes the point that the 16th century Reformers did this incredibly well. The reason the entire course of Western history was transformed was that Luther, Calvin, and the rest were incredibly adept at applying the gospel to the anxieties of their context.
2) American culture is fundamentally post-Christian
The U.S. has been historically influenced and shaped by the Christian worldview. This no longer holds sway in our culture, but the things our culture longs for—justice, peace, inclusivity—come straight out of the Christian tradition. Rather than acknowledge this, people in our culture want “a good life and a good world without God.”
3) How to do ministry in this culture
He says it should be highly relational with a strong sense of community in the church. The Christian community should seek to do three things to reach our context.
- Attract: Show how the gospel is beautiful. We should ask ourselves, “In what ways would the Christian life be attractive in our context?”
- Deepen: To make disciples, we have to root people deeply in the gospel.
- Inspire: “Truth is not the currency in this culture.” Beauty is. The gospel is not just true, it is good and beautiful. We should look to inspire people to discover the gospel as the purpose that makes sense of all the different threads of their lives.