For the church to obey the Cultural Commission of influencing every realm of culture as Salt and light (found in Genesis 1:28 and Matthew 5:13-16) it is essential that believers learn how to think biblically and articulate biblical principles in the language of contemporary hearers;
All the covenants point to believers taking the lead in secular society and redeeming culture for the Kingdom and Glory of God. From Genesis 1:28, 3:15, 12:1-3,17:1-5, 22:17, Duet. 28:10-13, Psalm 2, Psalm 110, consummating in Revelation 21:1-3 and Isaiah 65:17-25 we see the Word of God pointing us to actual engagement, penetration and transformation of society for Christ
Furthermore, Jesus was called the King of Kings –Rev 19:16 that means the president of all secular presidents in contemporary language (Which is a political statement)
He called His followers the ecclesia which is the equivalent of assembling together to rule cities and nations in Roman /Greco culture – Matthew 16:18-19
And He told us to disciple whole nations –Matthew 28:19- not merely individual ethnic people
The following are steps we need to take to accomplish this for the purpose of societal transformation
1- we need to have a biblical worldview for every realm of contemporary life
Because we are made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27) we need to learn how to think God’s thoughts after him; in other words, our thoughts should be derivative of Father God’s word and not merely our own subjective autonomous opinions. Whenwe fully explore what the bible says and agree with it’s general principles regarding History , Law , Psychology, education, religion, politics, economics, family and science – then we have a biblical worldview that serves as our lens that interprets all data we inhale. Unfortunately, most Christians don’t have a biblical worldview but only a cursory knowledge of pet bible verses they recite for physical and emotional health. This limited fragmented knowledge of Scripture has resulted in believers acquiescing to secular humanistic views in all practical matters dealing with the stewardship of the earth. As a result, this leaves the Christians relegated to dealing only with matters of religion and spirituality. Consequently, although we have an abundance of Christians serving in secular society and record numbers of people attending Sunday church services – our culture continues to reflect a humanistic worldview, which brings us to the next step
2- we need Christian thinking not just more Christians in societal leadership
Every where I go in society I meet an abundance of Christians serving in public schools, universities, hospitals, politics, business, and so on. With so many Christians already placed in influential positions in this nation, we have to recognize that the major challenge we face in regards to experiencing a biblical reformation is not a lack of Christians but a lack of Christian thinking in all these prominent realms. We have to realize that the bible is not just a book of promises, pithy sayings and moral commandments but a blueprint for how to manage and disciple whole nations! (Matthew 28:19) God has something to say regarding economics, how to aid the poor, health care, immigration, politics, and science, history ECT….
Even when the nation has experienced revival in certain places there was no long lasting effect in regards to laws and politics because Christians lacked a biblical worldview that applies the bible to culture
3- The Church needs to speak the language of Babylon
After gaining a biblical worldview, believers need to speak the language of the culture they are in. Every discipline in life has their own subculture with their own nomenclature (vocabulary describing nuances in their work) I.E. In the same way football utilizes words associated with their game like “touchdown”, the disciplines of political science, economics, sociology, education, non profit charities all have terminologies we have to master if we want to speak prophetically to them and communicate with their mind molders. A methodology that involves quoting bible passages and preaching to gatekeepers of culture doesn’t usually work unless they are in a personal crisis. Consequently, believers already successfully immersed in a particular discipline then need to think through the biblical concepts that apply to their field of work and articulate it in secular terms that un-churched people can connect with. Since the bible has the best ideas because it reflects God’s thinking- mature believers who do this skillfully can expect to be elevated to the highest places of prominence in their respective fields
Furthermore, pastors and leaders who want to reach the un-churched in their community- not only need to continually study their changing community demographic and provide practical services the people need, they also need to adequately represent themselves when making announcements by losing some of the unnecessary religious jargon that the average attendee cannot understand or connect with. (When public speaking or preaching, sometimes every other word out of the mouth of the pastor is “amen”, “praise the Lord”, “Hallelujah” and it turns off the un-churched because he thinks that part of the salvation package is adopting a weird religious nomenclature that doesn’t track with his present lifestyle. This is an unnecessary stumbling block, which can be removed if church leaders can learn how to streamline religious lingo and talk as normal as they do when in the workplace environment.
4- Christian parents need to prepare their children for leadership –not followership
A-This step in the process needs to be done concurrently with all of the steps mentioned in this teaching –thus I didn’t really know where to place it in this article. Having a multi-generational plan of training our children to be Christian thinkers and practitioners is the most important calling a parent and church has! Unfortunately, most Christian parents rarely take time out to pray and teach their children the bible. Even when they do, it is not enough to nurture them to be world-class leaders. To nurture world changers, as a general rule, young children between 3-10 years old should be immersed in scripture memorization. Once children are in middle school and preparing for high school –parents and churches need to begin to teach their child how to understand and apply their scripture knowledge in regards to evolution, history, education, government and business. They should also encourage them to excel in school and to attend the best universities and colleges available. In this way, we are not just teaching our children how not to backslide – but on how to take the lead in culture and society.
5-We need to nurture world changers in every realm of society
The bible teaches us that we need to have an intergenerational approach. This is done when we catechize our biological and spiritual children so that they can be trained to apply the bible to every day life. By doing this, we will nurture the greatest leaders the world has ever seen just like the church of old did when they had the greatest artists, scientists, writers, politicians, and educators that transformed Europe and North America! Up until the mid 1800’s the church not only cared for the down and out but also nurtured the ‘up and in” cultural elites that became the mind molders that influenced culture. Nowadays, instead of starting world-class universities like Harvard and Yale, the church shuns higher education and encourages emerging leaders merely to attend their little bible institutes! As long as we are afraid of higher education we will never ascend to the head of culture. It is time for believers to become the “cultural elites” of society so that we can lead our communities with wisdom and justice!
6-We should welcome unbelievers into our church community even before they accept Christ as Lord and Savior
Churches who think biblically but speak secularly are in the habit of embracing their community even before they accept Jesus Christ as Lord! Instead of getting the community to come into the church we need to send church members out to our communities as servant leaders. The church can become a hotbed of community activity in which those outside the church believe that the church building is now their community center for a wealth of information, resources and even community board meetings. In this way, the people on the outside of the church will feel comfortable with the people of the church and will be more inclined to step inside the sanctuary for a Sunday service
7-We should produce problem solvers for the greatest global challenges
I believe the time has arrived when the world will come to Pastors and believers for advice and answers on how to deal with the pressing problems they are facing in their community. The church should not only produce the greatest prayer warriors and worshippers the world has ever seen but it should also produce the greatest thinkers, entrepreneurs and strategist the world has ever seen. Presently, the world is waiting for a person to articulate answers regarding our failing economy, global terrorism, cures for cancer and AIDS, environmental issues, disaster relief strategies and more. Why shouldn’t people representing the Kingdom of God come up with these solutions?
8- we need to increase the quality of life by bringing community transformation
Talk is cheap. The world doesn’t need another book about the dire problems we have in our cities – we need people to produce lasting change that will greatly benefit the quality of life who will then write it down in a book and teach us.– God is looking for churches and people to at least create a community model others can look to for replication in their own cities.
THE FOLLOWING IS FROM MY LATEST BOOK “12 WAYS TO TURN YOUR FAILURE INTO SUCCESS”
Learn From Your Mistakes
If scientists and innovators in technology treated failure the way most people do, and then scientific and technological progress would
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hypotheses. Failure should always serve as a catalyst to get us to recalibrate how we operate and make us more efficient. Even the
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part of a normal cycle of allowing what really works to come to the fore and correct some of the systemic ills regarding our cultural
business habits. What does this all mean? That failure is the natural
process of learning to be successful –only if we reflect and learn from the mistakes that lead to failure.
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There is a seismic shift-taking place today in the marketplace and the church. We need to understand how to respond if we are going to bring systemic transformation. This paper deals with how the church should apply the gospel in response to cultural shifts.
First of all, it is a mistake to believe that the culture will shift because of a church revival or a societal awakening. Often, we as believers think the key to societal transformation is to convert masses of people. But the truth is that everyone is led by the decisions of the approximately 3-5% of people who make up the cultural elite in a society. Thus the only way to affect cultural change is to convert the elite who formulate culture in every sphere of society.
Second, it is a mistake to think that political victories will bring transformation. For example, abortion was legalized in 1973 yet the fight still rages on; same-sex marriage has been legalized in several states in the Northeast but the battle will never stop; homosexuality has been normalized by art, media and entertainment yet the rank and file of America still reject it.
The truth is that politics is only one expression of societal power. We need to influence the other mind-molding sectors of society if we are going to dictate the direction of culture. For example, we need to influence, infiltrate and control the Ivy League universities—especially Harvard, Yale, and Princeton—to change public policy, education, science, views on economics, etc. We need to influence major news outlets like the New York Times, CNN, MTV, etc. and not write only for Christian newspapers and appear only on Christian television stations like TBN.
Hence, we need to train the ecclesia to take the lead, not only in church but also by actually being professors, board members and chief executives of leading elite entities in art, music, entertainment, education, media and public policy (for example, the Hoover Institute and the Manhattan Institute).
We need to distinguish between merely just assembling together which is to synagogue (episynagoge) as found in Hebrews 10:25 (which is the common function and conceptual view of most church leaders) from the Ecclesia which in its classical and biblical usage means to come together to rule sort of like the parliament or congress of the kingdom under the king of kings (this is the way it was used in acts 19)
Having famous athletes and entertainers getting saved and giving testimonies is not nearly enough. We need revivals and multigenerational strategies to place our leading thinkers and practitioners in the highest levels of highbrow culture—like God did with Daniel and the three Hebrew youths in Babylon—if we are going to see societal change (read Daniel chapter 1).
Third, we need to nurture and/or convert those who are part of the emerging “creative class” who comprise between 12-30% of the population but have by far the most wealth producers and will drive the economy for generations to come (read Richard Florida’s book The Rise of the Creative Class). Those in the creative class used to be considered mavericks and non-conformists but are now part of the mainstream and part of a movement that has radically shifted the future of business and culture! Some of the characteristics of this new creative class-driven economy are:
· Businesses are moving towards creative urban centers such as New York City, Seattle and San Francisco. Thus geography is essential because it is moving from corporate driven to people driven; companies are moving to where the most creative people live, not just where there are tax incentives and highways.
· Typical hierarchical structures are fast becoming a thing of the past. New companies accommodate creative people who like to be self-managed, set their own hours, and are free to think, create, and dress informally. Autonomy, diversity and self-identity are valued more than conformity, conservatism, and groupthink. These people like to play at work and work at play; the lines between work and leisure are becoming fuzzier.
· Top-down autocratic leadership, which expects people to just follow orders and not think on their own, is no longer effective. Companies are now encouraging creative people to join their ranks who are semi-autonomous and self-managed with leverage to set their own hours.
· A person being loyal to one community and one company for the rest of his or her life is a thing of the past. People are now moving from company to company every several years based on new opportunities to accommodate their interests, increased skills, need to meet new friends, creativity, and desire for change and advancement. (Because of the information age we are in, there are now also virtual communities with much information changing and being exchanged every day. This is making it harder to have cohesive communities and set societal norms which results in fragmentation and postmodernism.)
· Diversity is in; conservative values are respected but not the norm. Only 23% of the families in the United States are nuclear families. Alternate family structures are now becoming the norm.
How should the church respond?
· The church should build authentic communities to model the city of God before we attempt to transform the city of man. We have to honor unity, family, and kingdom unity with churches in our regions before we can transform the pagan systems and cultures around us.
· World-changers need to experience creativity, leadership, covenant, unity, purpose and kingdom power in the church community (ecclesia) so they can be adequately discipled to recreate these things in the secular arenas to which they are called.
· Senior leaders need to transition away from top down autocratic leadership style approaches if they want to attract the creative class to their church
· We need to start investing a good portion of our monies towards educating and cultivating the most creative people in our churches and place them in every leadership sphere of society starting with the Ivy League schools. Consequently, we need a multi-generational approach
· We need to recapture the classical meaning of Ecclesia as used in Athens and in Acts 19 when it referred to assembling together for rulership as contrasted with merely assembling like the word to synagogue
· We have to understand that prayer; fasting and revival only among masses of people will not shift the culture, similar to how the 1857 Prayer Revival, the Azusa Street Revival in 1906, and the numerous Voice of Healing, Toronto Blessing and Pensacola revivals have not shifted culture. Only when revivals affect cultural thinkers who prove influential like Marx, Lenin, Freud, Darwin, and Gates will culture shift. (This is not to say that prayer, fasting and revival are not important. Of course, reaching and renewing masses of people and Christians is important to spread the gospel and save souls, but in this article we are discussing how to truly experience societal transformation.)
Even as we examine the Scriptures we see that God has used people that were already in high places of authority and/or culture before a nation was transformed.
As we do a quick review, we find that Moses already was a prince in Egypt before he was called to confront Egypt and deliver the people of God out of slavery;
Daniel was serving as a top political adviser to the King of Babylon (Nebuchadnezzar) and later as a prime minister in Persia, which positioned him to speak truth to power and transform culture;
Nehemiah was the cup-bearer of the King of Persia, which enabled him to receive the favor necessary to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem;
Samuel was the first in a line of great Jewish prophets who also served as the political judge of the nation;
David his protégé may have been a great psalmist but he also became a king.
Finally, all the great prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Elijah, Elisha, Micah, Ahijah, Amos, etc.) did not just prophesy to small crowds of people in the temple or synagogue; they had access to political and cultural elites, even to the highest political office of the land. (We need to cultivate kingdom prophets who speak truth to power outside the four walls of the church)
·Even church history reiterates this. For example, it took the conversion of Roman Emperor Constantine to legalize Christianity, placing it in a position to transform the whole empire. St. Augustine was first the professor of rhetoric for the imperial court, the most visible academic position in the Latin world, before converting and becoming the Bishop of Hippo, which gave him a platform to become the greatest theologian and thinker of his age. In 800 AD it was Christian Emperor Charlemagne who laid the groundwork for the first cathedral universities, which were the forerunners for all modern universities. Both primary leaders of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther and John Calvin, received educations that included vast knowledge of the classics, not only the Bible. (Calvin at one point actually considered becoming a lawyer.) The two leaders of the First Great Awakening (which saved England from the destruction that France suffered later in their revolution, and was also the impetus for the American Revolution), John Wesley and George Whitefield, not only knew the Scriptures but also graduated from Oxford. Thus they were already positioned to have the respect of the top decision makers of society. Furthermore, Whitefield’s American counterpart Jonathan Edwards was a graduate of Princeton and later became the president of Princeton. The abolition of slavery in the British Empire was affected by the Clapham Sect, which included William Wilberforce, who was a parliamentarian and a close friend of William Pitt the Prime Minister of England and many other cultural and political leaders. The Second Great Awakening in the United States was led by Charles Finney, a capable lawyer whose preaching was able to relate to many lawyers, judges and top decision makers in culture. He affected the course of our nation, which led to the abolition of slavery, the implementation of child labor laws, women’s suffrage and many other things. As we have already stated, the Azusa Street Revival and other 20th century revivals did not have significant cultural impact because they primarily converted masses of people without touching the cultural elite and top decision makers of society.
· We must understand the delicate balance between infiltrating and engaging the cultural elites and highbrows of society without losing our souls and becoming elites in heart and purpose. The “Be Attitudes” of Matthew 5-7 teach us how to interface with others in our communities.
· The church needs to learn how to avoid the extremes of the Christian Right, Christian Left, and the Pietists. (who avoid cultural engagement altogether) The Christian Right thinks the answer is only political. This approach clothes the gospel of Christ with a particular political party and pits us against people in the world who we are trying to save. This results in us trying to exert power and control people through legal means and changing laws. Although I believe the laws of a state should be based on the Ten Commandments, and that the law is a schoolmaster that brings conviction of sin (and is an emblem of what a particular society values), that in and of itself the law is a very weak line of defense because of the vicissitudes of democratic elections. This approach also smacks of Constantinianism. Although Christianity became the favorite religion of the Roman Empire in the 4th century, this resulted in weakening the church from within because unconverted pagans joined the Christian community without abandoning their lifestyles and core beliefs. The Christian Left only accommodates the gospel to the prevailing culture, which results in losing the biblical distinctions of salt and light. A church that recognizes secular values more than the Ten Commandments has already lost its soul and reason for existing as a Christian community.
The Pietists or Anabaptists take the approach that the church should only build alternative sub-cultures that don’t engage or affirm the prevailing culture.
The kingdom alternative is to take the approach of the Celtic Church in the 6th to 8th centuries. They incorporated the Anabaptist strategy of building an alternative community that was a model for the pagan communities they lived among. However they also recognized God’s favor upon His created order (God blessed His creation and called it good) which many theologians refer to as common grace. Thus their communities of faith embraced the non-believing communities, loved them, and won them to Christ by demonstrating the gospel in everyday life. The church is called to build what James Davison Hunter, in his book To Change the World,describes as communities of faith that both affirm the good in their surrounding societal structures (hospitals, art, police, transportation, commerce, music, science, education, etc.) while also demonstrating the antithesis against that which is sinful and corrupt, not necessarily only in word but how we live our lives as Christ followers. Davidson also calls this approach having a “faithful presence” and bases it on what God prophesied to the Jewish exiles in Babylon and Persia in Jeremiah 29:4-7. In that passage God told the exiles to build houses, build families, settle down and live normal lives, seek the welfare of the city they lived in, and pray to the Lord for those around them, because as the city was blessed they would be blessed.
·The church must also maintain a balance between honoring the traditions of the church and relating to contemporary culture. We are also called to model the power and blessing of the traditional nuclear family and marriage if we are going to be the antithesis to the fragmentation and curse of the alternate family structures of the present pagan world system.
We also have to repent for separating the gospels from the epistles in our approach to evangelism and discipleship which has resulted in attempting to change the world outside the master plan of Jesus for world evangelization – which is the local church (this is why the culture is continuing to decline in the united states in spite of the fact that the united states has 33 percent of the population claiming to be evangelical as well as more mega churches and gospel proclamation in its history!) The master or methodological plan for evangelism is not found in the gospels but in Acts and the Epistles! The gospels were written after the epistles were written to give context to the churches for the gospel story -not the other way around!
Thus Acts 1: 1 teaches us that all Jesus began to say and do was to be fleshed out in its fullness by the creation of kerygmatic (or proclaiming) communities that would be responsible for converting the Roman Empire in three hundred years. This is what Jesus planned all along!
In the New Testament there was no separation between missions, evangelism, helping the poor and nurturing disciples from the local church as you can see from reading the epistles.Thus they planted congregations that participated in complex apostolic networks that functioned as kerygmatic communities in every community of the world. Presently, congregations like these can commission elite (special forces) marketplace ecclesia’s that function as a shadow government in every significant societal sphere without being disconnected from the local church ; I believe this is the key to world transformation. Furthermore when you have complex apostolic networks you have less need for Para church organizations that are not rooted in the local church because local churches that band together to train leaders and do missions can compensate for each other ‘s lack
In summary: If we are going to transform culture we need to engage and shift those with influence toward biblical values at the highest levels in every major sphere of society. We cannot merely reach masses of people and change political elections. If we don’t reach the 3-5% who are the decision makers, then we will never reach our goals of societal transformation.We also need to bring back the centrality of the local church that function as kerygmatic communities in association with complex apostolic networks
As we think about the Scripture in Jeremiah 29:4-7 we realize the most important thing we are called to do is to live exemplary lives that are good witnesses to our surrounding communities. We need to embrace, serve and love our cities and communities, while at the same time train our children and those with the greatest potential in our churches to take the lead at the gates of every sphere of society. The battle for transformation is a multi-generational
World Vision and the Myth of Neutrality
Most recently it was reported that World Vision has recently changed their policy related to standards regarding the biblical lifestyle criteria for those they employ. After an outcry from the Evangelical church , now they seem to be reversing their decision (http://www.worldmag.com/2014/03/world_vision_reportedly_reverses_decision) Be that as it may , regarding their reason for the policy change to begin with ,
To quote W.V. president Richard Stearns “We’re not caving to some kind of pressure. We’re not on some slippery slope. There is no lawsuit threatening us. There is no employee group lobbying us,” said Stearns. “This is not we compromising. It is we deferring to the authority of churches and denominations on theological issues. We’re an operational arm of the global church, we’re not a theological arm of the church.”
This situation opens up a discussion related to the nature of a Christian ministry .
In my opinion I believe Richard and their top board still privately hold to the basic tenets of Christianity including biblical views related to personal morality, Also, we cannot always hold any large Christian organization responsible for the personal, private lifestyles of their employees .We also have to make a distinction between charities that are run by Christians but are not a Christian entity like World Vision. However, in the case of W.V. they were making public, official policy changes and statements that directly contradict biblical ethics for Christians that can alter the nature of the gospel they represent. I disagree that they have not gone down a “slippery slope”. To me, the slippery slope started when they began partnering with theologically liberal churches and denominations. This makes us ask the question, what is the true church and what is a true believer? If we are to merely go by the “Apostles Creed” as well as de-contextualize basic salvation passages from the rest of the bible, such as “for by grace you have been saved through faith…. it is not of works so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8) as well as “If you confess with your mouth Jesus is lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved “ (Romans 10:9) then we can make a case that the body of Christ can include folks who adhere to various erroneous beliefs and practices regarding marriage, family and human sexuality since it is not by works. However, when we read the whole bible, specifically in the New Testament, we read passages such as 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous2
This passage makes it clear that those who have an intentional lifestyle of practicing sin without repentance will not inherit the kingdom of God and or are not really true believers –especially if they condone sin and don’t repent of it. Paul made it clear –. Such “were” some of you- thus making it clear that to him the true believer wasn’t still engaged in a deliberate lifestyle of immorality.
Furthermore, 1 John 3:4-10 states “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. …………9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s [a
Based on these and many other passages in both the first and second covenant, it is clear that organizations like W.V. cannot get off the hook with a claim of religious or Christian neutrality. They cannot cop out by saying they are not the “theological arm” of the church but just the “operational arm” of the church. Any organization that wants to be expressed as Christian has to first and foremost go by the plain teachings of Scripture related to the nature of the gospel and to being a Christ follower. To put varying beliefs regarding baptisms and women in leadership in the same category as the biblical definition of personal morality is missing the point – the New Testament Apostles never listed divergent views regarding baptism and women in leadership as a disqualifier when it comes to inheriting the Kingdom of heaven. World Vision cannot have it both ways- either they are a Christian organization that follows the historic, orthodox teaching of Scripture or they are a humanistic organization that happens to partner with any organization including any expression of the church. I am sure W.V. started off the right way, and have good motives and do great work. (I also served on their N.Y.C. board for several years in the early 2000’s and so, in the past, I aided their work in my great city) As I already alluded to, their problem began when they began integrating the nature of their organization with entities that do not uphold biblical standards. They have been unequally yoked and went down a slippery slope-, which put them in a position to compromise the gospel. All Christian organizations have to eventually make up their mind- either they will be intrinsically Christian in nature and doctrine, or they will be a humanitarian charity that is merely led by individual Christians and is not overtly Christian in nature and practice -they cannot have it both ways!
Evil preaches tolerance until it is the dominant voice and then it attempts to silences the good
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