Intimidated by the Culture, Part 1
by Tom Goodman
December 7, 2007
Church Leadership Summit
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Recently I visited with a missionary couple over coffee. "The believers in our part of the world just don't interact much with their non-believing neighbors," the man said. "The culture has become increasingly secular and more sophisticated in
their objections to Christian faith. Over time, people have just become intimidated by their culture."
That phrase captured my attention: "intimidated by their culture." The missionary was speaking about another part of the world, but he could have been speaking about believers in Austin. While the Christian worldview and values still have
a strong influence over many places in Texas (and the South, for that matter), the same can't be said of Austin, our "Seattle of the Southwest." And over time, many city-center congregations have become "bunkers" instead of "beach-heads."
A bunker is a defensive position for soldiers to huddle in while their location is being shelled; a beach-head is a point from which military advancements can be made.
How can we lose our fear of engaging the city God has placed us in? Three things will help:
- Know What You Believe
- Love What Is Honorable About Our Culture
- Build True Friendships
We'll look at each of those challenges across the remaining three editions for this year's LeaderLines. Let's look at the first point this week: Know what you believe.
I'm convinced that many Christians don't want to get into respectful conversations about their faith because they're afraid that they won't have answers for the objections that someone may raise. Too many believers prefer to huddle together
with the shrinking population of other lifelong believers who will never challenge their assumptions. Maybe they're secretly afraid that the objections and questions people raise about Christianity have no answers.
The smarter you get about your Christian worldview and values, the less intimidated you'll be by your culture. So, take an apologetics class, or just start reading helpful books such as Lee Strobel's "Case" books: The Case for Christ,
The Case for Faith, The Case for a Creator, and his latest, The Case for the Real Jesus. In books like these you'll find solid defenses of your faith.
Now, don't misunderstand. I think we need to be prepared so we can discuss our faith, not so we can debate it. Our job is to win people, not win arguments. Knowing firmly what you believe does not remove your
obligation to ask sincere questions and listen respectfully. That's what you do when you're building real relationships with others.
Also, as you try to communicate what you believe to others, you have to figure out ways to describe your faith in a way that your neighbors consider relevant and compelling. When I was doing research for writing The Anchor Course, I was
disappointed to find how little material exists that is designed to explain the Christian worldview to seekers. The vast majority of material in our Christian bookstores was written under the assumption that believers would be purchasing
it. I wrote The Anchor Course as a way to explain the faith to those who are asking, "Tell me what difference it will make in my life to believe the Bible is the Word of God, or that the Holy Spirit is a real presence, or that Jesus is
really returning." In other words, they want more than a rational defense of the faith: They want us to answer the "So what?" question.
In short, you're going to be intimidated by the culture around you unless you have a firm grasp on the reliability and the relevance of the things you believe. Across the next two weeks, I'll cover the next two ways we can reduce
the fear we sometimes feel toward our culture.
P.S. Copies of The Anchor Course can be purchased for $13 from our church office, or online.
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