LeaderLines - from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas  Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor
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Five Cultural Struggles: Brokenness
by Tom Goodman
November 1, 2007

In his book, No Perfect People Allowed, Austin pastor John Burke says that churches have to be ready to deal with five main issues as we serve our community:


We've already looked at the first three struggles in previous editions of LeaderLines.  Now, what about the struggle with brokenness?  Burke writes: "Trust issues may make them cynical, tolerance issues may make them unwilling to listen, truth issues may confuse them, but acting out of brokenness will destroy them."

Think of the statistics for the generation currently between the ages of 30-45.  Burke provides a mash-up:
More than likely, one out of every three women you interact with will have had an abortion.  One or even two out of six women you talk to will have been sexually molested.  More than six out of 10 people you speak with will think living together before marriage is the wisest way to prevent divorce, and five out of those 10 will already have lived with someone.  Most will have been sexually active, and the thought of waiting until marriage will sound totally foreign and will need explaining.  Most men will have struggled with pornography or serious problems with lust.  One in five to 10 people will struggle with substance abuse.  At least one in five and as high as two out of five people who come to your church will smoke.

These are the people Christ came to seek and save.  They are lawyers, construction workers, and doctors, blue-collar and white-collar, light skinned and dark skinned, from the 'good' and 'bad' sides of town.  Are they welcome in your church?  Are they safe in your small group?

Nothing poses a greater challenge and opportunity to Austin-area churches than these destructive choices and the emotional pains behind the behavior.

To serve in this time and place in which the sovereign God has arranged the Hillcrest family, we have to create a culture of hope.  Our sermon topics, song selections, small-group interaction, and even our casual conversations after services -- they all contribute to creating a place where people find hope to move toward the better choices in life.  "People do not change without motivation," Burke writes.  "And there's no greater motivation than the hope of being all we were intended to be."

At least two things contribute to creating this kind of community.  "A large part of creating a culture of hope," says Burke, "has to do with painting accurate, compelling pictures of the loving, compassionate nature of God toward hurting, wayward people....  As we provide outlets for their real questions, doubts, and struggles, they can better see how doing life with God navigates them into the life they desire."

In addition, we need to be willing to share what God has done -- and is doing -- to restore our own brokenness.  After all, we don't sing...
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like you.

Last time I sang that song, I think it went -- "that saved a wretch like me."  So, in order to reach our community, "they have to see how we too are broken and in need of a Savior.  We must show others how our brokenness leads us to daily dependency on a merciful Savior who brings healing for our souls and hope for our futures."

Our study of the Twelve Apostles on Sunday mornings can help us at this point.  Think of all their failures, setbacks, and doubts on the road to becoming Christ's representatives.  If Jesus' closest disciples struggled, what makes us think that we won't, or that others who get involved in the life, ministry and leadership of our church won't struggle?  But as we all yield to the molding hands of the Potter, like Peter we can become the rocks on which he builds his church.

So, let's be a place where Austin residents can "find and follow Jesus together," a community that's helping each other become all we're meant to be.


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