To connect with a culture, we have to speak the language of that culture.
The 1st Century Church was filled with the spirit and also connected to the culture around them. This is something that is missing in the 21st century.
There are 1st century churches that are filled with the Spirit, but fail to communicate with the culture of the 21st century. There are 21st century churches that communicate expertly to their culture, but lack the book of Acts Spirit Power. We are called to do both, to be 1st century connecting with the 21st century.
The Apostle Paul went into different cultures and was able to communicate the Gospel to the new audience. There were times when Paul did not quote Old Testament prophets, but instead quoted the poetry and writings of the culture. It is necessary to have the Gospel message, but it is also necessary to deliver that TRUE message to the culture around us.
1st Century Church 5 Culture Connection from Redemption Church on Vimeo.
1st Century Church 21st Century World 5 – Culture Connection
Sermon notes by Chris Fluitt
Redemption Church Plano Tx
To declare the good news of Jesus and see others become followers of Christ.
1st century church connecting with a 21st century world
We are investigating 6 values we find in book of Acts Church.
Week 1 – They were all about Jesus
Week 2 – They experienced & expected Spiritual Transformation
Week 3 – They lived in Community
Week 4 – They were Mission focused.
Today in week 5 we want you to see that the 1st Century Church was CONNECTED TO CULTURE.
Connected to Culture
We live in a 21st century world. This world is fast paced. This world is complex.
I am 37 years old and I often feel like I am desperately trying to catch up to a 21st century world.
Text messaging, emails, social media Facebook, Twitter, snap chat, Instagram, VIDEO CHAT, CLOUD FILE SHARING, LIVE STREAMING HIGH DEFINITION VIDEO, BLUETOOTH, WIFI, 4G SIGNALS.
These are all things that barely existed when even I was growing up, but now they are the language of the age.
To connect with a culture, we have to speak the language of that culture.
We need to speak the language of young people and the next generation. We need to speak the language of the foreigner. We need to speak the language of the person who is not sure there is a God. We need to speak the language of the inner city & the suburbs.
We have a message to bring, but can we communicate it?
We are blessed to have Stan & Junia Schauer in this Church. They spent many years as missionaries in South America. I love to hear their stories of infiltrating new areas and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. If you have never heard their stories then you are missing out.
In order to come into that South American culture and successfully transmit the message of Jesus, THEY HAD TO SPEAK THE LANGUAGE.
This couple helped translate the Bible for new cultures. Some biblical themes are not all that easy to translate. FAITH is one such word that was hard to describe to a foreign culture. And that is the case when they tried to witness to the Yukuna Indian Tribe in Columbia.
Instead of crudely forcing a new word on tribal people, Junia & Stan listened to the people. I find this so fascinating. I also think it is a picture of the good news of God’s love.
They listened to the stories of people. They learned about their traditions. They learned about their failures and victories, fears and dreams. (This is counter intuitive, because we often think we need to only get the information about Jesus out and not take in the information of the individual.)
Stan told a story about a man that had fallen into a pit that he could not escape from and how a man dressed in white pulled him out of the pit. The story continues that the next day the same man that had fallen in the pit was chopping down a tree, but that the tree fell on him trapping him under its weight, but thankfully that the same man dressed in white came and lifted the tree. Then Stan asked his audience “how would you describe how the man who was trapped in a pit and under a tree would feel about the man dressed in white?”
Kaphí iná pechu Jesucristo chojé
His Columbian audience said that the man would have “his mind strong in” the man in white/Jesus Christ. Not a phrase that we would use in English but a phrase that was used in the Columbian Yukuna indian tribe culture.
Stan then was able to declare that FAITH is having your mind strong in Jesus Christ.
Does anyone have their mind strong in Jesus? Anybody know that He can pull you out of pit. Anyone know that he can lift any burden. Do you have confidence in Christ?
The Schauer’s grabbed onto this phrase to declare the biblical idea for faith. They used this idea that was already known by the culture.
To connect with a culture, we have to speak the language of that culture.
To connect with a 21st century world, we have to speak the language of the 21st century world.
Christ & His apostles connected with the world they lived in. The 1st century Church connected with a 1st century world. We desire to be a 1st century church – with all of the passion, power, and heart that they have in the book of Acts, but we need to connect to a 21st century world.
There are some great 1st century churches out there. There are some 1st century churches in this metroplex that have the power of the Holy Spirit and the Apostles doctrine, but they have no idea how to connect to a 21st century world. They act like they are living in the 1st century… In order to be an attendee at that church, you need to step into a time machine of sorts.
There are some great 21st century churches out there. They know how to connect with today’s culture and how to leverage technology to amplify their message, yet they lack the Holy Spirit Power of the 1st Century Church.
A 21st Century church’s facebook account might have 20,000 friends, but none of them know each other. They lack Community! Their website may be cool, but what does it really “SAY.” They have cool engaging sermons, but they are built around illustrations and not the truth of scripture… Are they all about Jesus? Is there spiritual transformation? Do they challenge people to fulfill the great co-mission?
A 1st Century Church is ALL ABOUT JESUS… It is always focused on the MISSION. There is COMMUNITY! There is SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION.
We do not want to be a 1st Century Church that only connects with a bygone era.
We do not want to be 21st Century Church that connects well with people, but fails to connect with the Power & Purpose of the 1st Century Church.
Redemption Church, we don’t want to be either of these churches…we need to be a hybrid.
We need to convey that same power, that passion, that wisdom, and heart of the 1st Century Church in a way that people understand & embrace in the year 2017.
A 1st Century Church that can minister to a 21st Century World.
Innovation can create connection. New ideas can bring people together. Technology has made the world a smaller place where a message can be transmitted to the masses at the push of a button.
We need to bring innovation and creativity into what we do as a church in order to connect to people.
We have the message, but are we properly transmitting the message so that it can be received?
I am going to be direct here. We need to be better at this.
We need content that grabs the attention of the audience.
Art, Video, Music, Dramatic & Theatrical display, Thought provoking words and performance, New Technology. We need these. Some of you are skilled in these areas. The Church of Jesus needs your gifting.
You might not view these things as spiritual, but bust making or preparing these things can bring people to Christ. We have made weird videos that have caught people’s attention and brought them to an altar. We try to make videos that you are glad to share on Facebook and other social media that introduce your friends to Redemption Church and more importantly Jesus.
We haven’t done any video work this entire series. We need someone who will step up and commit to their gifting. If you already have the passion to do these kind of innovative things then you need to meet us in this altar today to launch yourself into ministry.
The 1st church has never been against employing innovation if it connects people.
Paul was schooled in the ancient. He remembered the old paths of Judaism and was an expert in the Levitical law that he learned as a Pharisee. He knew the unchanging Truth of Jehovah God… but… then Jesus called Him to leave Israel and to travel into places that couldn’t care less for his ancient traditions.
Paul wasn’t afraid to try new things. He had that 1st century church power and he was willing to do ANYTHING to connect it to his world – EVEN IF IT HAD NOT BEEN TRIED BEFORE. Paul was comfortable with God’s power flowing in and out of him. So much so, that Acts 19 says
11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.>
Handkerchiefs!? Paul was busy, and between travelling everywhere, making tents at work, and being imprisoned all of the time, we can infer that he wasn’t able to go and pray with everybody. Items that touched him healed the sickness in others. (It was like Paul was looking for a way to connect with people… He may have thought to himself “I can’t be there to connect with them… to touch them… but I can touch this handkerchief and in a way, I will be there…)
This innovation is not found anywhere else in Scripture. There is no Old Testament prophet that employed this strategy. Some could have accused Paul of being UNBIBLICAL BY DOING SOMETHING NEW. He was not being UNBIBLICAL he was INNOVATIVE.
Think what Paul would have done with an innovation like Video chat? His FACEBOOK LIVE would probably never turn off.
Paul would travel to different parts of the world. He would encounter areas with a much different culture than Jerusalem. Paul found ways to preach Christ within that nation’s culture… Probably one of the best examples was Paul in Greece…
Paul’s sermon on Mars Hill was revolutionary and what some consider a perfect example of modern evangelism. Let’s read
Acts 17:16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols.(NIV)
Acts 17:17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there.(NIV)
Acts 17:18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.(NIV)
Acts 17:19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting?(NIV)
Acts 17:20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean.”(NIV)
Acts 17:21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)(NIV)
So Paul is preaching the Gospel, the good news about Jesus and it startles the educated people and gets him invited to a meeting of the Areopagus, The highest judicial and legislative council of ancient Athens. They want to know what he is talking about.
Acts 17:22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious.
Acts 17:23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.
Paul studied their culture. Paul went into their culture and figured out how to reach out to them. He knew that these philosophical people would be more open to new thoughts if presented correctly within the constructs of their culture. So Paul preached Jesus within their own customs. He was connecting with the culture and presenting Christ. The altar to the unknown god gave Paul his “key.”
In Paul’s sermon, he even quotes someone… Did He quote Moses? King David? One of the prophets? No, you see Moses, David, & the prophets were Paul’s culture and not relatable to the Greek culture. Paul quoted a popular works from Greek poets.
Acts 17:28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’
“For in you we live and move and have our being.” That’s from the poem Cretica, written by Epimenides (ca. 600 BCE)
“for we are also his offspring.” That’s talking about the highest Greek god Zeus from the Cilician poet Aratus (315-240 BCE)
Paul (who typically quotes old testament scriptures) takes lines from two popular works of literature of the day and runs them together to explain God. To 1st century Christians, this might have been edgy or risky. To the Jews, this would be blasphemy, because God was not for the Gentiles such as the Greeks. But Paul was desperate to connect the message to the people.
Paul points to their false idol’s altar and proclaims the savior. He quotes their poets to declare the truth of Scripture.
As the Church we need to be connected to the culture around us. We need to be able to transmit the message using the language of the culture around us.
This is not unlike Jesus teaching through parable. Using simple understandable stories to declare God’s Truth.
<Ipad child vid>
Redemption Church wants to connect people to the love of Jesus. That little girl in the video could navigate around an ipad, but was lost as far as the magazine went. Magazines, filled with good information (and have been for decades), but to this child, it’s just a broken ipad. For this little girl, it wasn’t a problem with understanding the content, it was a problem with delivery.
Redemption Church wants to connect people to the love of Jesus. We want to take this 1st century church power, passion, love and connect it to our 21st century world. And we are going to take a page out of the first century church’s playbook, because we are going to be innovative. We are going to be willing to try new things.
We want Redemption Church to be a place that is alive and vibrant.
We need you to be this kind of church. We need your gifting. We need your passion to be unleashed. We need your thoughts and ideas. We need your bravery. We need your voice.
Do you have ideas that you are keeping quiet? Don’t do that! We want to collaborate with everyone here to bring out new vibrant kingdom adventures that bring the gospel to people in ways where it meets them where they live. Let your innovative light shine. Connect Christ to your world.
Matthew 5:14“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;
Matthew 5:15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.
Matthew 5:16“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
We all have different skills and unique ideas, but at Redemption Church, we have one vision. If we do something unexpected that you think is weird, we would be happy to talk to you about it. Chances are that there is a good reason (that has already been debated about a lot) that we are trying it. We want people to know the Jesus that we know. We want to bring a little of that 1st century church to the 21st century.
We don’t want to be a broken ipad. We want to have the message and relate it to the culture. We want Redemption Church to be a great place to bring your friends to receive the power of Jesus, the love of other believers, and the passion of a church seeking God’s will.
Will you connect your world to Christ today?
Will you help us be this passionate vibrant innovative church?
Will you bring your friends?
Like Stan the missionary found the key to bring the truth of faith to that Kukuno tribe… We too want to find the key to bring the gospel to the Metroplex.
Like Paul reached into the culture of Athens to find the key to preach Christ… Let’s ask God today for the key to hearts and minds of our friends and families.