Increasingly, churches are becoming more and more influenced by culture and society instead of being the influencers of culture and society. This process is known as secularization. It is true that our culture has influenced our faith and our lives. The following are six tools to help you fight secularization and influence culture:
1. Theology matters.
At its core Christianity believes something about God. Paul tells Timothy to hold fast to the faith. Paul tells us that his ministry is focused on what is of most importance (1 Cor. 15:1–11). As the church, what we believe, teach and confess to be true matters. Having a relationship with God requires taking a stance that some things are true and others false. Christianity is more than a confession of faith, more than theology, and more than doctrine. Without these, however, there is no Christianity.
2. Church practice matters.
The way the church worships matters. The way a pastor serves congregations matters. The way the church sees itself matters. It matters that church members confess their sinfulness as a congregation publicly in worship. It matters that a minister—an ordinary man gifted to speak God's words of grace—stands before the congregation as a representative of Christ to preach forgiveness, grace, mercy, justification, sanctification, and eternal life with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. It matters that the church welcomes all people. It matters that the church expects repentance. It matters that we sing thanksgiving, praise, and lament to God. It matters that the church is honest about the Christian life, avoiding triumphalism and false expectations.
3. Family time matters.
Some people get so caught up worrying about the state of the culture that they never teach their children the basics of the faith. It matters that parents pray with their children. It matters that families sing hymns and psalms together. It matters that families read Scripture outside of Sunday worship. It matters that families speak God's words of mercy and warning to one another. The time families spend together letting the word of God dwell in their hearts matters. It matters that we take the time to care for those closest to us.
4. Hospitality matters.
It matters that we share our time with neighbors and friends and church families. It matters that we expect God to work in our ordinary conversations, to guide, to encourage, and to save. It doesn’t matter whether we have little or much. It doesn’t matter that life is chaotic. We have something that is worth more than all of these things: we have God's Word. The conversations we have, the words we speak, and the kindness we share over a can of beans is enough for God to use for our good and the good of our neighbors.
5. Evangelism matters.
It doesn't matter that you don't have everything in the Bible figured out. It doesn’t matter that you have a busy and hectic life. What matters is that you know the gospel. It matters that we understand that Christ died for sinners, that you and I are sinners, and that all people in the world are sinners. It doesn't matter that people don't seem to respond immediately. Evangelism takes time.
People may take a long time to understand the gospel. People may struggle long and hard to accept its claims. People may show hostility. People may appear to receive it with joy, only to live as if the gospel doesn't matter. What matters is that we take the time to converse with people. It matters that we daily have something to share, gained through our own study and reading. It matters that we have ordinary conversations with people. Being dramatic in our presentation doesn't matter. What matters is that, a little at a time, we share the one thing that we find most valuable—the gospel. Evangelism isn't about getting people to make a decision for Christ; evangelism is about what we share.
6. The way we treat people matters.
The kindness we show matters. That we don't regard people according to status, wealth, or ethnicity matters. That we love one another as we desire to be loved matters. That we forgive as we have been forgiven matters.
We don't fight secularization by trying to clean up society or change the church. We fight secularization by believing the gospel, speaking the gospel, and forgiving sinners as we ourselves have been forgiven. We fight for the gospel through humility, through weakness, and through mercy with love. Our concern for the culture is good, but we need to worry less about influencing the culture and instead trust God’s Word to influence us all.
It’s your life; you can live it however you want, right? Wrong.