So here is the paradox. Our world is suspicious of Christianity, but at the same time it yearns deeply for the things that the church is great at providing WHEN IT FOCUSES ON BEING THE CHURCH.
What kinds of things does the world desperately need?
FIRST, the world needs authenticity & transparency. It needs Christians to be transparent and self-aware, willing to admit that we DON’T have all the answers and we don’t always have it all together; who do we think we’re fooling? No one but ourselves.
People outside the church are willing to admit that they don’t have it all together, that they struggle and need help. The least we can do is be as honest and self-aware as the people we’re trying to reach out to.
When we refuse to be authentic and transparent, we are pretending to hold authority that no one believes we ever had anyway. Being honest about your struggles will earn you more respect from outsiders than pretending to have it all together.
So when you’re struggling through life, admit it. A theology that’s based on being right about everything, on having all the answers in a tight, seamless package has no appeal to the postmodern world. It also does not exist, because life and God are bigger than our systems.
SECOND, the world needs to hear THE story in ways that help them see how THEIR story fits into THE story. THE story is the story of a God who created and who loved his creation so much that he sacrificed himself to redeem it.
Keep reading and applying the story to yourself. Keep coming back to the story when you talk to others; it will never get old and it will never lose its power.
THIRD, the world needs genuine community. People feel isolated. People are lonely. Families are fragmented. Virtual community, having a thousand Facebook friends, is no substitute for true community with a couple of close friends.
Sometimes the most powerful thing you can do is sit across the table from someone and truly, deeply listen to them talk about how they’re doing.
Sometimes the most powerful thing you can do is to listen deeply to someone and then humbly and simply pray for God’s help and blessing on them.
The church can provide these things for the world; these are things we’re almost automatically good at. Or we can fight the culture wars. We cannot do both; do you see how the attitudes of the one rule out the other?