I saw a discussion about hip-hop in the church, and since the discussion was closed, I'll have to start another discussion. I have been on both sides of this issue. After watching a video by Elder G. Craig Lewis called "The Truth Behind Hip-Hop" in college, I decided for a while that hip-hop should not be used or promoted in the church.

 

I still don't believe that most secular hip-hop should be used in church. However, some of the most theologically solid pastors that I have heard are in the new reformed hip-hop churches. Pastors such as Eric Mason, D'hati Lewis, and Jerome Gay. These men are theologically sound and seek to use hip-hop (the genre, not the religion) to reach the lost. What's the difference between a cowboy church and a hip-hop church? I'm sorry if this is offensive to anyone,

 

I can see why people are against Christians using hop-hop. A lot of it has to do with the five percent nation of Gods and Earths. I am opposed to this false religion just as much as anyone else. But hip-hop is very popular among today's youth and some people's opinions are changing.

 

Flame and Lecrae are arguably the most popular Christian hip-hop artists today. If you go to sbts.edu, you will find an interview that the vice president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary did with each of them. He believes them to be theologically sound and believes that they are reaching the lost with their message. The SBC is a very conservative denomination. If their thoughts are changing on this issue, that says a lot.

 

Like I said before, I don't want to offend anyone, at least unnecessarily. But I believe that we have to lose our religion if we want to have a relationship with Christ. Some traditions are worth holding onto. Like the sound doctrine that was preached by the reformers, the puritans, the methodists, and the early Pentecostals. But some things can and should change.

 

To sum everything up, doctrine should never change if it's based on the word of God. But our methods of conveying those doctrines can and should change over time. Just trying to speak the truth in love.

 

BTW: I do think there's a place for revealing the truth behind a lot of the music out there today. But I think that sometimes G. Craig Lewis goes too far. Especially when he talks about Kirk Franklin and Mary Mary and other gospel artists like that. I'm not saying that they're above reproof, but we shouldn't tear other people's ministries down. Those are my thoughts. God bless.

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Most Hiphop is controlled by devil worshipers, and "Black Freemasons" Kirk Franklin is a Boule Freemason, and devil worshiper..

Check out these vids... http://abcpreachers.ning.com/forum/topics/the-boule-satanic-secret-1
Those videos are no longer on YouTube.
Natalie, I do believe that some styles of music are probably more conducive to worship. However, there are some very theologically minded artists out there such as the ones that I mentioned in my post. Some of them are even attending seminary. However, I guess that I can understand someone feeling that it has such a negative connotation in the world that it doesn't have any place in God's house, especially in respect to demeaning and degrading women and glorifying sinful desires. However, as far as glorifying sinful desires, rock music does this as well, and if we're going to apply this principle to hop-hop, then we should be consistent and apply it to Christian rock also.

The fact is that hip-hop could be the most popular style of music in the world today. If we forgo this opportunity to impact the culture for Christ, we could lose more ground. There is a lot at stake on both sides.
BTW: I don't know if I mentioned this or not, but I almost exclusively listen to Christian music. That's my goal. After reading a book called "The Next Christendom" by a man named Philip Jenkins who is professor of religious studies at Penn State. In it, he talks about the growth of Christianity in what he calls the "Global South", which is comprised of Africa, Latin America, and South America. The most popular form of Christianity in those parts of the world is Pentecostalism, and along with this comes a firm belief in the supernatural; curses, angels, demons, heaven, hell. Most of these societies were already proclivitously leaning toward these kinds of beliefs anyway, and this may bespeak (at least in part) of the reason that Pentecostalism is so popular in these parts of the world. In many places, it spreads like wildfire.

To get to my main point, these believers are very conservative in almost every way. And, Philip Jenkins, in a small bit of side commentary adds that he believes that part of the reason that the churches in the West are dying is that they are becoming more and more secular. That was a revelation for me. It changed my whole perspective. It freed me from the bondage of feeling like I just had to go with the flow and drift along further and further down the stream toward worldliness that so much of evangelicalism is caught up in today.

So, basically I saw that I had brothers and sisters in the third world that are standing with me, if only in spirit. And I will meet them someday on the other side.

These words written by tobyMac are really powerful. They make me think of the church in other parts of the world. The song is called City On Our Knees:

City On Our Knees Lyrics

City on our Knees by TobyMac
If you gotta start somewhere why not here
If you gotta start sometime why not now
If we gotta start somewhere I say here
If we gotta start sometime I say now
Through the fog there is hope in the distance
From cathedrals to third world missions
Love will fall to the earth like a crashing wave

Tonight’s the night
For the sinners and the saints
Two worlds collide in a beautiful display
It’s all love tonight
When we step across the line
We can sail across the sea
To a city with one king
A city on our knees
A city on our knees
Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh

If you gotta start somewhere why not here
If you gotta start sometime why not now
If we gotta start somewhere I say here
If we gotta start sometime I say now
Through the fog there is hope in the distance
From cathedrals to third world missions
Love will fall to the earth like a crashing wave

Tonight’s the night
For the sinners and the saints
Two worlds collide in a beautiful display
It’s all love tonight
When we step across the line
We can sail across the sea
To a city with one king
A city on our knees
http://www.elyricsworld.com/city_on_our_knees_lyrics_tobymac.html
A city on our knees
Oh-oh-oh

Tonight could last forever
We are one choice from together
Tonight could last forever
Ooh
Tonight could last forever
We are one choice from together
As family
We’re family
Oh Tonight could last forever
We are one choice from together
You and me
Ya, you and me
Tonight’s the night
For the sinners and the saints
Two worlds collide
In a glorious display
Cuz its all love tonight
When we step across the line
We can sail across the sea
To a city with one king
A city on our knees
A city on our knees
Oh oh oh
A city on our knees
A city on our knees
Oh oh oh
If we gotta start somewhere why not here
If we gotta start sometime why not now
This is the heart of M.I.C. Assembly’s evangelism strategy: We must be willing to catch fish on their own terms. Successful fishing often requires doing things that are uncomfortable in order to get to the fish.

Did you know the average fishermen never ventures farther than a half mile from the paved road? Serious fishermen, however, will go to any length to catch fish.

What kind of fishermen are you? Do you put up a sign that says, “Here’s our church. If you want to come, show up at our time and our place and wear our clothes and sing our songs.” Or are you going to go where the fish are? Out where you might have to get in the mud, where it’s uncomfortable and it’s dirty and stinky. You have to stand in the sun or freeze at night in order to catch that fish. We have this “take it or leave it” attitude about fishing and that’s the way a lot of churches feel.

How serious are you about Christ's commission? How serious are you about God's Kingdom & Church? Are you willing to go to any length and be uncomfortable in order to lead people to Christ?

Understanding and adapting to their culture without being mix in it

Jesus told the disciples,

"And into whatsoever city ye [all of you] enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you." (Luke 10:8).

In saying, Jesus was giving more than dietary advice; He was commanding them to be sensitive to local culture. He was telling them to fit in with those they wanted to reach. They were to adapt to local customs and culture when IT DIDN'T VIOLATE BIBLICAL PRINCIPLE.

Learn to eat what is set before you. You don't have to like everything you taste, but you need to love the people showing you hospitality, because you want to lead them to Christ. So adapt to their ways.

We ask the world to adapt to us and then act arrogantly if they won’t. Jesus said we go to serve. Eat what is set before you. Are you willing to adapt and do the uncomfortable to reach the unchurched?

Too often we let cultural difference between believers and non-believers become barriers to getting the Message out. Christ has broken down that wall. Paul says,

"Wherefore remember, that ye [all of you] being in time past Gentiles [whether black, Spanish, white, Asian] in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision [non-believers] by that [them, the Jews] which is called the Circumcision [God's people] in the flesh made by hands; that at that time [back in the days] ye [all of you] were without Christ [or outside Christ], being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the [many] covenants of promise [under the Old Covenant], having no hope, and without God in the world: BUT NOW IN CHRIST JESUS [under the NEW Covenant] ye [all of you] who sometimes were far off are MADE NIGH [MADE NEAR] BY THE BLOOD OF CHRIST. For He [CHRIST] is our [insiders and outsiders] peace, [Jesus] who hath made both [insider's and outsider's] one [unified in Christ], and [CHRIST] HATH BROKEN DOEN THE MIDDLE WALL OF PARTITION [Gk: 'INCLOSING BARRIER'] BETWEEN US [insiders and outsiders]; [CHRIST] HAVING ABOLISHED IN HIS FLESH THE ENMITY [BEEF AND HATRED], even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain [two people] one [unified] new man, so making peace; and that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity [BEEF AND HATRED] thereby: and [CHRIST] came and preached peace to you [non-believing outsiders] which were afar off, and to them [Jewish believing insiders] that were nigh [near]. For through Him [CHRIST] we [insiders and outsiders] both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye [all of you, insiders and outsiders] are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens [Gk: 'FELLOW CHRISTIANS'] with the saints [Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the twelve sons of Jacob/Israel, the Jewish apostles and early Jewish Christians], and of the household [CHURCH] of God; and are built upon the foundation [TEACHINGS OF CHRIST TAUGHT] of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone [the most important stone at the TOP of the temple that hold the whole building together]; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in [Christ] whom ye [all of you, insiders and outsiders] also are builded together for an habitation [living place for or ...] of God through the Spirit." (Ephesians 2:11-22).

For some Christians, any talk of "adapting to their culture" sounds like theological liberalism or a license to sin--that you’re selling out, you’re compromising, you’re a chameleon, you’re a cop out, you’re a hypocrite, you’re watering down the gospel, you’re caving into culture. This is not a new fear. In fact, it was the reason the apostles and elders held the Jerusalem conference in Acts Chapter 15. In those days the issue was, "Do Gentile believers have to follow Jewish (church) customs and culture to be considered true Christians?"

"And CERTAIN MEN which came down from Judea taught the brethren [they taught the New Christians], and said,

'Except ye [all of you NON-Jewish New Christians] be circumcised after the manner of Moses [the OLD Covenant], ye [all of you] CANNOT BE SAVED.'

When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension [uproar] and disputation [dispute] with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.

And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. But there rose up CERTAIN OF THE SECT OF THE PHARISEES WHICH BELIEVED [YES, there were Christian Pharisees], saying,

'That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses [the OLD Covenant, including the 10 commandments (Ex. 34:28, Duet. 4:13)].

And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter." (Acts 15:1-2, 4-6).

The apostles and elders answered with a clear "NO WAY!"

"And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them,

'Men and brethren, ye [ALL OF YOU] KNOW how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles [New non-Jewish Christians] by my mouth should hear the Word of the gospel [the Gospel of the kingdom of God], AND BELIEVE. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; and [GOD] put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts BY FAITH.

Now therefore why tempt ye [all of you JEWISH/PHARISEE CHRISTIANS] God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?

But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they [SHALL BE SAVED BY THE GRACE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST].

And to this agree the words of the prophets [in the Old Covenant/Testament]; as it is written ...

Wherefore [for this reason] my sentence [judgment, decree] is, that we trouble not them [New non-Jewish Christians], which from among the Gentiles ARE TURNED [REPENTED] TO GOD: but [THESE ARE THE ONLY RULES FROM THE OLD COVENANT] that we write unto them, that they

[1] abstain from pollutions of idols,

and [2] from fornication,

and [3] from things strangled,

and [4] from blood.

For it SEEMED GOOD to the Holy Ghost, and to us, TO LAY UPON YOU NO GREATER BURDEN THAN THESE NECESSARY THINGS; that ye [all of you]

[1] abstain from meats offered to idols,

and [2] from blood,

and [3] from things strangled,

and [4] from fornication:

from which if ye keep [guard] yourselves, YE SHALL DO WELL. Fare ye well.

So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle [letter]: which when they [New non-Jewish Christians] had read, THEY REJOICED for the consolation [COMFORT, ENTREATY, ENCOURAGEMENT]." (Acts 15:7-11, 15, 19-20, 28-31).

From that point on the Church began to adapt to each new culture as it spread around the world. God loves variety. He created all of it.

The Gospel is always communicated in the terms of some culture. The only question is, which one? No church can be culturally neutral. It will express some culture because it is composed of human beings.

The church began growing among the Jews and then it began to spread among the Gentiles and then it became a big issue. Does a Gentile have to become a Jew in order to become a Christian? So there was a big conference in Jerusalem, as described in Acts 15. The question was, “Do you have to adopt all the Jewish customs such as eating kosher in order to become a Christian?" The answer that came back from the Apostles was a resounding, “No!”

Thank God for that council. Because of that decision, Christianity spread around the globe to every culture and every crevice of the world. For 2,000 years Christianity has adapted itself to one culture after another. If it hadn't adapted, we'd still be a sect within Judaism!

We still have Judaizers in the church today more interested in purity than in people. Jesus died for people. He said tares and wheat will grow up together. Don’t worry about the tares. Jesus will pull them out at the end. You’re not to be a tare picker. That’s not your job. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job. Let the tares and the wheat grow together, because you want to reach the wheat and harvest it.

We are ignoring 2,000 years of church history when we insist that our own cultural expression of faith is better or more biblical than any other.

If you've ever notice that when fishermen are fishing the fish don't automatically jump into the boat or throw themselves up onto the shore for them. Their culture (underwater, the sea) is very different from ours (air, in heaven).

I have noticed when I go fishing that fish don’t automatically jump into my boat. When I'm on land they don’t just flop up and say, “Catch me! Catch me!” If I'm going to catch fish, I have to go to their environment to get them, to reach them. My environment–air–is very different than their environment–water.

So you see they are underwater "in the sea," and we are above "in the heavens" which in the Greek is also translated "air." It takes intentional effort on our part to make contact with fish. That's why Jesus came and told His disciples that He would make them fishers of men. So, somehow we must figure out how to get the bait right in front of their nose in their culture (in the sea).

But they’re not going to come to my environment. I’ve got to go to theirs to reach them. And I’ve got to put that bait right in front of their nose. You have to make intentional contact with them. Churches that expect the unchurched to show up simply because they build a building and hang a "We're Open" sign are deluding themselves. People don't voluntarily jump into your boat. You must penetrate their culture.

To penetrate any culture you must be willing to make small concessions in matters of style in order to gain a hearing. Jesus jumped into our culture by coming the way we came -- by being birth. Had He came on chariots out of the sky, He'd probably scare all the people and they would have never heard Him. So He came in a non-threatening way -- as a baby. Another example, M.I.C. Assembly will adopt the hip hop informal style of dress code to identify with the hip hop community we will minister in. So we will also design our services to reflect.

Here’s the point. You don’t expect unbelievers to act like believers until they are.


Letting your target determine your approach

Catching fish on their terms means letting your target determine your approach. When fishermen go fishing, do they use the same bait for every kind of fish? Of course not. Do they use the same size of hook for every kind of fish? No. You must use the bait and hook that best matches the fish you want to catch.

Paul always allowed his target to determine his approach. He describes his strategy in 1st Corinthians:

"For though I [Paul] be [spiritually] free [that's liberty] from all men [mankind], yet [STILL] have I [Paul] made myself [physically a] SERVANT unto all [humanity], that I [Paul] might gain the more [BY SERVING]. And unto the Jews ['But he IS a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.' (Rom. 2:29)] I [Paul] became as a [SERVANT] Jew [Paul didn't become a Jew, Paul was already a Jew. 'I (Paul) am verily (truthfully) a man which am a Jew ...' (Acts 22:3)], that I [Paul] might gain the Jews; to them [the literal/physical children of Israel] that are under the law [of Moses], [have I (Paul) made myself a SERVANT] as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law [of Moses]; to them [the Greeks, Gentile nations, the rest of the World] that are without [the literal or spirit] law [of God by Moses or of God by Christ], as without law, (BEING WITHOUT LAW TO GOD, BUT UNDER THE LAW OF CHRIST ['For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free (that's liberty again) from the law of sin and death.' (Rom. 8:2)],) [have I (Paul) made myself SERVANT] that I [Paul] might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, [have I (Paul) made myself SERVANT] that I might gain the weak: I am made [myself a SERVANT] ALL THINGS TO ALL MEN [MANKIND, HUMANITY, that I might by [SERVING] all means save some [some. not many but THE FEW ALREADY CHOSEN AND PREDESTINED BY CHRIST TO BE SAVED IN THIS LIFE. (Rom. 8:28-30)]." (1st Corinthians 9:19-22).

Wherever Paul was, he play to the crowd. When He was around the Jews, he became a Jew to save some Jews and this was the result:

"As THEY LISTENED TO HIM [Paul], THEY GAVE GLORY TO GOD and then said to him, “You see, brother [Paul], how many thousands of believers there are among the Jews, and they all remain zealous for the Law [of Moses]. But they [the Jews] have been informed about you, that you are teaching all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from [the Law of] Moses [called the Old Covenant], telling them not to circumcise their children, neither to observe the ancestral customs. Now, how about it? For they will learn that you have arrived. So then, do as we tell you. We have here four men who have taken a vow. Take them along, be purified with them and take care of their expenses so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everyone will realize that there is no basis for the reports about you, but that you yourself order your life in observance of the Law [They told Paul to act like a Jew]. “With regard to Gentile believers, we have issued the resolution that they shall abstain from food offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled meat and from unchastity.” The following day Paul took the men along and, after undergoing the purification ritual with them, he entered the temple to announce the completion of the purification period, which would be when an offering had been made for each of them. But when the seven days were about completed, the Jews from Asia who had noticed him in the temple ... " (Acts 21:20-27, Modern Language Bible).

When we was arrested listen to what Paul said:

"And saw Him [JESUS IN THE SPIRIT] saying unto me [Paul], Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning Me. And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: and when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him. And He [Jesus] said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles. And they [the non-believing Gentiles] gave him [Paul] audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live [they wanted to kill Paul]. And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air, the chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle, and bade that he should be examined by scourging; that he might know wherefore they cried so against him. And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by [listen to what Paul said], Is it lawful for you to scourge a man THAT IS ROMAN [he didn't use his Christian label he used his SECULAR CITIZENSHIP like we use secular beats to reach the non-believers], and uncondemned? When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for THIS MAN IS A ROMAN." (Acts 22:18-26).

Are you getting the reason why I dropped 'Disciple' off my name and 'God's Armor" off my personal ministry's name? He wanted to be effective for Christ, not a hindrance to the Gospel by using HOLY TAGS! Here's another time he used something SECULAR OR WORLDLY instead of Kingdom credential:

"So the whole city became agitated; there was a rushing together of the people and, seizing Paul, they dragged him outside the temple, and instantly the doors were shut. They were trying to kill him, when the report reached the commander of the cohort that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. At once he marched soldiers and their officer’s double-quick down to the mob which, on seeing the commander and the soldiers, stopped pummeling Paul. The commander then advanced, took charge of him, ordered him bound with two chains, and inquired who he was and what he had done. Among the mob some shouted this and others that; so, unable to get at the facts because of the tumult, he ordered him taken to the barracks. But when Paul got as far as the steps he had to be carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob; for the multitude of people followed him, shouting, “Away with him!” At the point of being brought into the fortress, Paul said [not in his natural language, but IN GREEK] to the commander, “Am I permitted to have a word with you?” He [the commander] said, “DO YOU KNOW GREEK? Are not you the Egyptian who recently stirred up the rebellion and led out four thousand cutthroats into the wilderness? [He thought Paul was Egyptian]” But Paul replied, “I AM A JEW [WHO CAN SPEAK GREEK] FROM TARSUS [A CITY] of Cilicia [IN ASIA MINOR, not ISREAL where Jews come from], a citizen of no insignificant city. I beg of you, please let me speak to the people.” With his permission Paul stood on the steps and motioned to the people and, when all of them were quiet, he addressed them IN THE HEBREW LANGUAGE in these words: “Brother and fathers, listen to the defense I now make to you.” As soon as they heard him address them IN HEBREW, THEY WERE STILL QUIETER, so he proceeded, “I AM A JEW, a native of Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city. At the feet of Gamaliel I have been educated with exacting care in OUR ancestral Law [OF MOSES], with a zeal for God such as you all have today. “As such I persecuted this Way [JESUS AND THE BODY OF CHRIST] to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me out. For from them I received letters to the brothers in Damascus, where I was going, to bring the believers there back as prisoners to Jerusalem for punishment." (Acts 21:30-40 & 22:1-5, Modern Language Bible).

Did you pick up that? He used all kind of natural SECULAR TOOLS to witness to the non-believing. He spoke two languages in this section alone to get on their level. Then he used his HOLY TAGS to prove he was on their side at one time. This next one he used HOLY TAGS to identify with a certain crowd:

"And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren [Even in chains he address them as family], I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day. And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth. Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law [of Moses], and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law? And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God's high priest? Then said Paul, I wist [knew] not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people. But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I AM A PHARISEE, THE SON OF A PHARISEE: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question. And when he had so said, there arose a dissension [A DIVISION OF THE COUNCIL] between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both." (Acts 23:1-8).

Some critics might say Paul was being a chameleon, that by acting differently with different groups he was being hypocritical in his ministry. Not so. Paul was being strategic. His motivation was his desire to see all people saved. Here's the Living Bible paraphrase of 1st Corinthians 9:22-23:

"Yes, whatever a person is like, I try to find common ground with him so that he will let me tell him about Christ and let Christ save him. I do this to get the Gospel to them and also for the blessing I myself receive when I see them come to Christ."

Notice Paul says, “When I'm with one group of people I become like them–when I'm with Jews I become like a Jew. When I'm with Gentiles I become like a Gentile. When I'm in Corinth, I become like a Corinthian.” Today he’d say, “When I'm in Florida, I become like a Florid ian to reach Californians. When I'm in Texas, I become like a Texan to reach Texans. When I'm in the urban center, I become like the urbanite to reach the urban center.”

People say, “He’s being a chameleon.” No, he’s being strategic. The message must never change. It is “…the faith once delivered for the saints.” We don’t have a right to change it. But the methods have to change for every target. So you need to know who your target is so you can develop the methods to go after that target. You reach farmers in a different way than you reach doctors. You reach young rappers in a different way than you reach students. Executives in another way. Just different ways. Like that great theologian, Sly Stone said, “Different strokes for different folks.” That’s a principle right out of the book of Matthew. You go and eat what is set before you.

Paul said,

“Whatever a person is like, I try to find common ground with him so that he will let me tell him about Christ and let Christ save him.” 1 Corinthians 9:22 (LB)

That’s being strategic. That’s catching fish where they are.

What was Jesus’ standard approach to evangelism? I once read through the gospels to find out how did Jesus win people? Did He use the Four Spiritual Laws? The Roman Road? What was His tool?

His standard approach was this,

Jesus’ Standard Approach: hE DIDN’T HAVE ONE

If you read through the four gospels in order to discover the standard approach Jesus used in evangelism. What I, myself learned was that He didn't have one! He had no standard approach in witnessing. He simply started wherever people were. When He was with the woman at the well, He talked about living water; when He was with fishermen, He talked about catching fish; when He was with farmers, He talked about sowing seed.

Beginning with the felt needs of the unchurched

Whenever Jesus encountered a person He's began with their hurts, needs, and interests. When He sent His disciples out He told them to do the same:

"Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give." (Matthew 10:8).

Notice the total emphasis on felt needs and hurts. When you're in pain, either physically or emotionally, you aren't interested in the meaning of Greek and Hebrew words. You just want to get well. People are tired of hearing. They want to see.

The apostle Paul wrote,

"So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye [all of you] were dear unto us." (1st Thessalonians 2:8).

He understood the importance of "telling" the Good News--"we were delighted to share ... the gospel." (1st Thessalonians 2:8, NIV). This is proclamation. He also understood the importance of "showing" the Good News--"we were delighted to share ... our lives as well." This is incarnation.

Proclamation: "Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If you continue in My word, then are you My disciples indeed; And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).

Incarnation: “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love one to another. By this [love] shall all men know that you are My disciples.” (Matthew 13:34-35).

Result of both proclamation & incarnation: "If ye abide in Me [Jesus], and My Words [the Truth of the Gospel] abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is [This is how] My Father [is] glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be My disciples. As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you: continue ye in My love. If ye keep My commandments [Truths of God's Words], ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is My commandment, That ye love one another, AS I [JESUS] HAVE LOVED YOU. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:7-13).

Proclamation and incarnation. In a word-saturated world people are saying more and more, "First show me. Then, when I have come to trust you, you can tell me." A man's receptivity to what we "proclaim" will rarely exceed the authenticity of how we actually live.

Jesus always ministered to people's needs and hurts. When a leper came to Jesus, Jesus didn't launch into a long discourse on the cleansing laws of Leviticus. he just healed the man! When He encountered the sick, the demon-possessed, or disturbed, He dealt with them at their point of pain. He didn't say, "I'm sorry, that doesn't fit My preaching schedule. Today we're continuing our series through the book of Deuteronomy."

If M.I.C. Assembly is going to be serious about reaching the unchurched, we must be willing to put up with people who have a lot of problems. Fishing is often messy and smelly. Many churches want the fish they catch to be already scaled (spiritually circumcised), gutted, (sanctified), cleaned (purified), and cook (purged and set on fire by God's presence and Spirit). That is why they never reach anyone.


Understanding and responding to the hang-ups of the unchurched

At M.I.C. Assembly we will take the hang-ups of the unchurched very seriously, even when they are based on ignorance. Non-believers have hang-ups about churches asking them for money, about churches that use guilt and fear to motivate, about churches that expect them to attend every meeting the church holds, and about churches that make visitors stand up and introduce themselves.

Our strategy is to counteract these hang-ups as quickly as possible. For instance, in our surveys of the unchurched we found that denominational labels or just the word "church" carried a lot of negative baggage for many of the unchurched. This caused us to choose the neutral name "M.I.C. Assembly."

The word "CHURCH" in the Strong’s Greek Dictionary, #1577. ekklesia, "a calling out, i.e. (concretely) a popular meeting, especially a religious congregation (Jewish synagogue, or Christian community of members on earth or saints in heaven or both): — ASSEMBLY, church." Choosing a neutral name Or using "assembly" rather than the word "church" was an evangelism strategy, not a theological compromise.

In 1988, a Gallup poll revealed that 33 percent of all Protestants had changed denominational affiliations during their lifetime. I'm sure the number is greater now. Given the increasing popularity of generic products, it's obvious that today's generation has very little "brand" loyalty. For most people, value is a greater draw. Few people choose a church on the basis of the denominational label. They choose the church that best ministers to their needs.

Change methods whenever necessary

If you've ever fished for an entire day, you know that sometimes you have to change bait as the day wears on. What fish were biting on in the morning they seem to ignore in the afternoon. The problem with many churches today is they are trying to use bait and hooks from the 1950s in the 1990s -- and the fish are no longer biting. The greatest enemy to our success in the future is often the success of our past.

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