Growing up in a church and in different denominations I experienced the presentation of the gospel in many different and colourful ways. And over the years I have watched how the influence of culture has crept into our church communities.
What do I mean? In Matthew it says:
‘If you stand before others and are willing to say you believe in me, then I will tell my Father in heaven that you belong to me. But if you stand before others and say you do not believe in me, then I will tell my Father in heaven that you do not belong to me’ Matthew 10:32-39 (ERV)
Churches are doing things differently in 2019 than they were in 1990 – I believe this is a good thing. But I see people being asked to bow their heads, close their eyes and told not to worry as no one is watching them. Just put up your hand, it’s between you and God. Maybe we think people will shrink back and feel embarrassed about making the response if they are asked to do it publicly.
On the one hand, I understand that it is between you and God, but on the other I don’t believe it’s right asking people to keep the best decision they can make a secret! In Matthew, it says we need to stand and declare publicly that we follow Christ and are not ashamed to do so.
I started preaching with the cultural view of not wanting to embarrass people. But I was challenged by God to instead be countercultural by being true to what I believe he was saying to me.
I recently called a response at an event and was remined that Billy Graham always called people out of their seats to declare Jesus is Lord of their lives. With that in mind, I called people to stand, and two people stood. I felt a sense of culture screaming ‘NO! You can’t do that’ but more importantly I felt God say ‘good and faithful servant’.
John Williams, Enable