Josh Cousineau is church planter of Redemption Hill, located in Auburn, Maine, and core team member of the Gospel Alliance New England. He enjoys spending time with his high school sweetheart – now his bride since 2002 – and their three children. Josh blogs at JoshCousineau.com.
In my first post I talked a little bit about the culture of the Northeast, especially New England. In this post I wanted to put forth a couple thoughts on the 'how' of mission. The question begs to be asked, 'If people do not know their need for a Savior, how do you reach them?' The short and simple is that it has to be a work of the Spirit. If He is not living and active in New England, or anywhere for that matter, then there is no hope and no point to our efforts. But the glorious truth is that the Spirit is at work, especially in the hearts of those who do not know they even have a need for Him.
Preach Jesus - The number one thing our churches must do in any culture, especially one who doesn't know anything about Jesus, is to preach the real Jesus. We need to stay far away from the 'your best life now' Jesus. The Jesus of the Bible will be the only one who can reveal people's need for healing from the brokenness that is this world.
Preach Truth - We need to not waver or wallow in our view of firm Biblical doctrine. Many people will 'water down' things that are clear in the Bible under the name of 'reaching out' to the lost. While this could be considered noble, it misses the point. What is needed in a world full of people who claim truth, is a people who's lives point to an ultimate, life-changing truth.
Be Real - Fakeness has struck many blows to the church. What is needed now is not more hypocrisy, but transparency. People need to hear about how we have failed, how we have messed up, how we have been about us or about an agenda and not about what Jesus was about. We need to confess our sins to those in our midst and show them how we turn to Jesus! Only in our real, brokenness will the world be freed to be broken.
Be Normal - All those things listed above are not to be done on Sunday during an hour-long service, but in our daily, normal lives. We need to be real at our 9-5, when we drop our children off at day-care or school, when we go on a date with our spouse, or sit and play catch at the local park. We also need to preach truth in our dealings with our boss and co-workers. We need to show that the truth we believe in is not simply a good, morally upright set of beliefs, but something that has changed us from the inside out. We need to be people that will hold firm to the truth of the Scriptures and be willing to take it on chin if need be.
Church in New England will never penetrate the culture by meeting for an hour each week, even if it is the greatest show in town. What we will do when we have the greatest show in town is draw people away from the other shows and have them join ours. This drawing is not true conversion, but transplant growth. No matter how great our show is, people that are not interested in watching the show will never attend.
Think of it this way. I don't play disk golf. So if a new course was to open and be the best in town, or even the region, or the world, it would not entice me in the least to go try my hand at it. The most it will do is draw people from the other 3 or 4 disk golf courses around my area. This makes total sense in the setting of something we do not like to do, or care to do. Yet we are baffled when we try it with church and it doesn't work. Here is the reason; you and I love the church. If you are spending time reading this blog, then you love the church. You are the disk golfer who is at the ribbon cutting for the new course. Just replace 'disk golf' with church, and you get the picture.
Yet we, in New England, live in a world that couldn't care less about church, so no matter how much we tell them it is amazing in our advertising, or no matter how 'cutting edge' we think we are, the only people wowed by it are those who are already playing church.
This is where things need to change. We need to take Ephesians 4 and live it out. We need to be pastors and ministers who equip our people to preach Jesus, be real, and stand firm on the truth of what Jesus has done for them.
(Photo courtesy: TGC)