Traditionally the Church has had two choices when confronted by cultural changes: one is to hold fast to its belief system and the second is to find ways to communicate the Gospel to avoid going against culture.
As a revivalist, I am very familiar with the fact that historically the numbers of watered down “Gospel” messages to fit cultural changes have always far outnumbered those holding fast to doctrinally-solid, Biblically-based truth.
John writes in 1st John 2:16, “For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but of the world”(NKJV). Sadly, we must admit as ministers of the Gospel that when it comes to our own desire for success, the “pride of life” can be as real to us as it is in any other profession. I heard someone share in a recent sermon that when he attended yearly minister’s conference, one of the hardest things for him has always been the question that is inevitably posed by his fellow ministers: “So how many are you running now?” That question is answered in yearly reports that ministershave to send to their denomination’s national office and in phone calls with fellow clergymen in other states. As ministers, they are continually mindful of “how many” are regularly attending their services. For the purest of hearts, the genuine concern is for reaching as many people for Christ as possible. However, what we must guard our hearts against is “are we drawing in as many people, in any way we can”?
The culture has probably already had a subconscious effect on our thinking: “Should I still preach the message that I really feel that God has given me?” “Will my message offend some people, in light of the new way of thinking that some are embracing? Should I just preach on something like tolerance this week and trust God to take care of that issue that I know needs to be dealt with in my church or community?”
Paul made it clear by saying; “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” Ephesians 4:11,12 (NKJV).
Crowd pleasers, using pieces of the Bible to craft a culturally palatable message to try to follow changes of their day, have started whole movements full of false teaching. Oh that we may stay faithful to Gods Word! May we someday hear Jesus say to us, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”
Rev Nolan J Harkness is the President and CEO of Nolan Harkness Evangelistic Ministries Inc. since 1985. He spent most of his adult life working in youth ministry. He also felt the calling of Evangelist/Revivalist and traveled as the door was open holding evangelistic meetings in churches throughout the Northeast. His website is www.verticalsound.org.