Things Need to Change
By Lisa Nuss
The World’s Methods Changed
Do you remember your first computer? I do. I was in 5th grade and I often had to negotiate with my parents for a little more time online when they needed to use the phone. Dial-up problems, right? I remember thinking how great it was that instead of consulting the very old 1973 World Book Encyclopedia set in my house for information for a school project, I could now get more up-to-date information about pretty much any topic at the click of a mouse button. And I’m not going to lie, all of the cool computer games that I now had at my disposal for entertainment were a pretty fun perk as well. Oregon Trail, anyone?
Technology has transformed the way that human beings communicate in profound ways. From quill and ink to ballpoint pens, from typewriters to word processors, from film strips to HD video, the way that people share and receive information has changed drastically. That being said, we as the church should be communicating with people in ways that they will best receive it.
But changing our methods doesn’t only apply in the realm of technology. Anyone who has kids or has worked with kids knows that personalities are also key components in communicating. What works with one child may not work the best for another, and the same holds true for adults. While some may need a straightforward and no-nonsense approach, others might need a gentler tactic that takes their feelings into account.
God’s Methods Changed
God himself used different methods of communicating to get his message across throughout history. He spoke to Joseph through dreams (Genesis 37). Moses heard from God through a burning bush (Exodus 3). When he wanted to tell Mary that she would be the mother of the Messiah, God sent an angel to visit her (Luke 1). I think that if social media had been a thing when Jesus was on earth, he probably would’ve used those platforms in order to reach as many people as possible.
Paul’s Methods Changed
The apostle Paul understood this idea and implemented it throughout his ministry. He said, “When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law. When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ. When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.” (1 Corinthians 9:20-23) In no way does this mean that we compromise our faith or morals when trying to reach people for Christ. It means that we need to take the listener into account and be mindful of how they can best receive what we are communicating.
What About Yours?
The message of the Good News that Paul was sharing in the early years of the church is the same message we share today – the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. The message hasn’t changed but the methods have, not only for the church as a whole but for each of us as individuals. Think about the family, friends, neighbors you have who don’t yet know Jesus. What methods have you tried to introduce them to him or even to invite them to church? Are there any ways you could change your methods without changing the message? Maybe it’s worth a try.