It's time to pop the church bubble many Christians are in. Some have been in the bubble so long that they have disengaged from the world, said Mark Beeson of Granger Community Church.
Meanwhile, the world is waiting for Christians to stop talking and start doing something to engage the world. People want something to happen now, but what the church presents must be done in context, Beeson said.
Beeson was speaking at Innovate 2008, an annual conference hosted at his church in Granger, Ind., over the weekend. This year's conference theme was "Stop Talking. Start Doing."
Granger's senior pastor was one of a several speakers who are part of some of the most innovative churches in the country, all of whom challenged conference attendees to "start doing" for the purpose of transforming lives.
"Most churches in America are not getting the job done ... yet the dechurched and the unchurched make up most of the people in our communities," said Tim Stevens, executive pastor at Granger, who believes the church isn't doing a good job reaching beyond the "churched."
Stevens is the author of Pop Goes the church: Should the Church Engage Pop Culture?, which was released earlier this year. In the book, he describes the need to leverage culture and to meet people where they are. But many churches aren't making a measurable impact on their surrounding communities – communities that are dying without Jesus, he says.
He believes religious tradition advising the church to avoid "worldly" culture is misguided.
Those words come from a pastor whose church sermons often feature movie and television clips, drama, and secular music.
"A lot of people feel church is irrelevant – so it’s time to change," he says. "Church can’t meet people’s needs if people won’t come in the front door.”
Speaking to pastors and other church leaders at Innovate, Stevens warned, "Spiritual questions are being posed, but people are not going to the church for their answers. Maybe they don’t see the church as a safe place to explore their questions. What do we do with these two realities? Churches aren’t getting the job done … and spiritual questions are being asked more than ever!"
Urging what many pastors are afraid to engage, Stevens said, "Use pop culture."
When churches engage culture, they can save a troubled marriage, help a person find purpose, or help a man bound up in religion be freed up to live with joy.
Throughout the two-day conference, attendees were taught how to engage culture, utilizing such tools as technology, without becoming enamored with the "stuff."
Shawn Wood, experiences and creative pastor at Seacoast Church in South Carolina, cautioned church leaders not to let the "stuff" become the object of their affection.
"Stuff will never change a life, or transform a community," Wood said. "Our only motivation should be that we know Jesus can transform lives. The reason we do it is because of Jesus."