For the past ten months, the He Gets Us Engaging Culture Series has advanced the dialogue around community engagement by laying out basic principles that are essential for the future health and growth of the church.
With insight from host Ed Stetzer and guests like Nona Jones, Albert Tate, David Kinnaman, and Max Lucado, this video series sheds light on how to share the gospel in our current moment—and now each episode is available for free on the He Gets Us partners website.
Need more convincing? Here are the top five takeaways from the series:
1. Engaging culture looks like building bridges.
When Kevin Palau, President & CEO of the Luis Palau Association considers the needs of modern communities, he sees an opportunity for the church to move toward individuals who are unsure of, or even hostile toward, Christianity. But there are some important prerequisites for believers to bear in mind.
“The good news is: I think it’s possible to build bridges if there is a good amount of humility, a lot of good question-asking that takes place, a lot of and serving and behaving well. I’ve seen the ability to get into spiritual conversations and gospel conversations with those prerequisites,” says Palau (Engaging Culture episode 1).
This bridge building may look like a church leader studying the values, concerns, and languages of the young people in their area. Christians might choose to participate in outreach events as a means of connecting with community groups they wouldn’t otherwise engage. In other words: it’s not enough to want to reach others—we must actively take opportunities to do so.
2. We need creative approaches to evangelism.
Door-to-door witnessing is out and digital discipleship is in. Reflecting on changes in outreach over the past decade, pastor Andy Stanley shares that his church has “become more and more intentional about endearing our community. We want people in our community to know we’re here, to be glad we’re and to be better off because we’re here” (Engaging Culture episode 2).
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How might thinking similarly expand the possibilities for witnessing in your community? Acknowledging that many have valid complaints, fears, and wounds because of the church is a great place to start. From there, we can begin to minister in ways that refresh the church’s reputation and make a positive impact in the community.
3. Stories carry power.
Amidst all of the unique nuances of our present moment, stories continue to transform lives just as they did in prior generations. Creating connection and community, stories become a mirror, helping people better see and understand themselves.
Pastor and author Max Lucado encourages Christians to ask the question: What is so special about the Christian story? He goes on to say, “Absolutely unique to our story is the person and power of Jesus Christ” (Engaging Culture episode 4). So what stories should we tell? Bible stories, sure, but also stories from around the globe, personal testimonies, and our own experiences with grief, pain, and hope.
4. Relationships are irreplaceable.
Relationships are the most effective vehicle for the gospel—they are essential for evangelism. And establishing and building those connections isn’t a thing of the past; small groups, service projects, and local outreach still help us stay connected to our local communities.
Consider encouraging your church members to build relationships where they are: workplaces, social settings, and children’s schools. Even digital spaces on social media offer opportunities to have meaningful dialogue that forms real friendships, tilling the ground for gospel conservations. Think “water cooler conversations,” says Ed Stetzer, dean of Talbot School of Theology at Biola University (Engaging Culture episode 1).
Where are the gathering places in your congregants’ everyday lives? Those are prime real estate for building relationships that reveal the love of Jesus.
5. We need hope.
The world is a broken place, and only the gospel offers true hope. We have answers to questions that so many are asking, but how can we share those answers in winsome ways that honor the humanity of each person we encounter? Author, speaker, and tech expert Nona Jones encourages us to remember the tremendous mercy we have been shown by our loving God. “The foundation of grace is humility,” says Jones. “We often think that humility is thinking lowly of ourselves or degrading ourselves, and that’s not it. Humility is about placing the full weight of our faith, the full weight of our identity, in Christ” (Engaging Culture episode 3).
By remembering who we are—and whose we are—we can both experience and extend the hope of Jesus.
Challenges Facing Pastors
These lessons aren’t meant to make the role of the pastor more difficult. He Gets Us understands that church leaders face many challenges: they are often called upon to be experts on a wide range of topics from theology to social media. They carry the weight of congregational care and spiritual growth, and they must steward the finances of the church well. When emergencies arise or disaster strikes, they’re often the first call.
The Engaging Culture Series does not add to these challenges, but rather it helps the church rise to meet them. This series provides resources and insights that can help them better connect with their congregations and communities. In addition to these videos, He Gets Us offers a variety of free resources, including articles, small group guides, sermon ideas, and webinars and podcasts.