Culture

6 Ways to Influence a Culture of Evangelism

Everyone follows the people they look up to. Just recently I had a handful of families over for lunch. It was joyful chaos with crowded rooms and team-work food preparation. If you watched, you could see the tiniest two-year-old mimicking and following room-to-room the biggest kid present, who was a respectable four-and-a-half. Every push of his toy truck and every wave of his hand was emulated with pizazz.

We orchestrate our lives around a big story that we trust in. The habits and decisions of our daily life are expressions of living that story

That’s how it is in the church. If you’re serving and leading, people are watching you. You likely have more influence on how others think about their lives than you may be comfortable with. Some might study your marriage. They might copy your spiritual disciplines. They might model your use of language. Or they might emulate your evangelism. Whether we recognize it or not, people follow their leaders.

We must depend on Jesus for help to lead well, but we must also be intentional. So how do we lead well in evangelism? The tone we set in our community changes the way those around us see the value of proclaiming the gospel. Here are six ideas to consider as others watch you.

1. Help Others Know the Message

Can those you are leading articulate what the saving message of the gospel is? I’ve found we often assume others can—when they cannot. She may love Jesus and want to serve him, but when you ask her what someone must know to be saved, a blank stare greets you.

When you are teaching, from any passage in the Bible, clearly define the gospel. We believe the Bible is centered on Jesus and the gospel, so each time you teach show you believe this focal point by talking about humans’ value and sin along with Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection as our saving hope.

As you engage with the men and women, train them how to talk about the gospel. We are constrained by orthodoxy but are free in creativity to express the message in a variety of ways.

2. Speak of the Mission

To influence the culture of evangelism around us, we are compelled to talk about the mission of God into which he has invited us. We have been given a mission and a message with God as the great Actor. Our place is to love, serve, and speak of the good news—because we have the best news of a loving, forgiving God! People desperately need him, so we take the initiative to do those things and trust God to work.

We have been given a mission and a message with God as the great Actor

Speak about the mission when you’re on a walk when you’re at a lunch appointment, and when you’re praying with others. Talk about the ways you are taking the initiative to bring a meal to your neighbors, to invite your hairstylist to coffee, and to speak to the students in your classes.

I’m not talking about boasting in how well you’re doing—that’s not helpful—rather, sharing your steps of faith in humility, including your fears and failures. This sharing helps others have ideas for their next steps of faith. Talk about the mission like this is truly something we are on because we are.

3. Share Your Faith in God’s Power

Our view of the call to evangelism can be strange. At times, we treat it like the stain on the rug we scoot the couch over. If no one acknowledges it, maybe we can pretend it’s not there. Other times, we face it fully-focused, yet we slip into pragmatism, promotionalism, or moralism.

We get focused on what we are accomplishing, rather than trusting the God, who saves. Guilt or pride grow, depending on how your stats are going. Fear and changes in tactics seem like easy answers. As a result, we wrongly decide certain people are not “in the market” for what we’re offering.

Pragmatists, promotionalists, and moralists can be good evangelists, yet be doing nothing for the glory of Jesus. Their work is not done in dependence upon him.

Rather, share your faith in the power of God for salvation. We speak about Jesus because we believe that God actually does raise the spiritually dead. We believe our greatest need and greatest joy are found in God himself. Speak of this truth and protect those you serve from any “-ism” that will make evangelism about themselves.

4. Share the Gospel Yourself—and Take Others with You

This step is basic, but nonetheless important: Follow through. Ask God to open doors for the message of Jesus. Then pursue the people around you with love, kindness, and truth because you expect him to answer! Make coffee dates. Invite people over for dinner. And when you do and when it’s appropriate, bring others you lead with you to observe you talk about Jesus. They’ll learn a lot from watching and joining you in loving others this way.

I try to take a friend on coffee dates with me when I believe we’ll be talking about the gospel. Sometimes when I’m going to visit someone in their home, it’s easy to bring a gal with me. When we share the gospel with someone, we often do it multiple times. Your partner can share his or her story with your help. Be a leader who lives this out in view of those you love.

5. Pray Fervently and Celebrate Wildly Together

Remind your people of the mission by praying for open doors to walk through by faith. Ask for prayer for yourself and pray for them. Be honest about what success looks like. It should resemble faithful loving and an offer of the gospel—an offer that sometimes isn’t accepted. We take the steps. The results are in the hands of God.

As the Lord works among you, celebrate wildly! Know that he is the God, who blesses, loves, reveals himself, and pursues people. Enjoy watching what he’s doing and party like they are in heaven as God draws people to himself. Help others know that you’re in this together—a community who is on mission for Jesus.

6. Acknowledge the Challenge

Talking about Jesus can be hard. It has always been risky. Remember the threats, jailings, and beatings in the book of Acts? Some have always rejected the message, but that does not mean we have done anything wrong. Rejecting the message is not the same as rejecting you, though they may be sequential.

Bodily injury may not be the main challenge of evangelism for those we serve. Often it’s just plain awkwardness. The truth is we’re awkward when we talk about things that important to us. We get nervous; our hearts race. We forget to make eye contact; we overanalyze everything the other person may be thinking. We get sweaty. You get the idea.

The only way I know how to deal with this is what I’ve said a hundred times to those I care about, “Embrace the awkward.” This message is much greater than the fear of awkward. But as leaders, it’s good for us to acknowledge this and remind them that we’re all awkward humans on mission with a mighty God.

You may be reading this post, and guilt or fear are already creeping over you. Maybe you’ve just realized that you haven’t been leading in evangelism at all. Perhaps you haven’t loved the mission of Jesus.

The good news we proclaim also tells us there is grace for us. Grace to forgive our sin. Grace to calm fears with the truth. Gracious provision of the Holy Spirit to empower us to speak the message and trust in Jesus. Ask someone to help you take the first steps in each of these ideas, and remember the gospel for yourself.

As you do, know that people are watching you. You have the opportunity to influence those around you to see evangelism as worth any risk, any cost, and any fear. For the Kingdom of God is at hand. Jesus has brought the best gift, and our lives are conduits for the best news. He is working to bring people to himself. May he send more laborers into the harvest fields.

Reflections

  • Who is watching you as you follow Jesus and live on mission?
  • How does the good news inform how we view our failures?
  • Where can you take a young believer where they can watch you take about Jesus and the gospel?

Taylor Turkington has worked for a church in the Portland area for the last six years, teaching, discipling, and training. She loves being involved in the equipping and encouraging of people for the work God has given them. Before her church life, Taylor worked as a missionary in Eastern Europe and graduated from Western Seminary with an M.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies. Currently, Taylor is a student at Western in the D.Min. program. She loves teaching the Bible and speaks at seminars, retreats, and conferences. Taylor is a co-founder and co-director of the Verity Fellowship.

Originally appeared at The Verity Fellowship, “3 Ways to Influence a Culture of Evangelism.” Used with permission.

4 Benefits of Stories for Discipleship

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Not everyone values good stories. Sometimes Christians can be the worst of all, afraid of being of the world. What we must remember is that everything we do is part of a liturgy we live in. If we are not intentionally discipling ourselves and others with the truths of God’s story then we will be discipled by other things—for good or bad. Everything you hear, see, taste, and touch is telling a story. Reading good stories is crucial to combating these destructive stories. Christians must wisely choose stories that will help them mature as disciples.

1. Stories help us shed the skin of our unbelief.

“We are narrative creatures, and we need narrative nourishment—narrative catechisms.” — N. D. Wilson

Stories in the most fundamental way remove the barrier of believing that the impossible could happen. We read of dragons, knights, wizards, looking-glasses and these stories help prepare our hearts to believe truths that could not be believed without them. God has placed in our hearts the creativity to create stories that reflect the big truths of the story he is writing. Without these smaller glimpses, we might hear his story and balk at the fantastical nature of Red Sea crossing, killing giants, controlling nations and kings, and a virgin birth, but with them we hear his story and shed the skin of our unbelief.

Perhaps you enjoy reading fiction and you’re a fan of Lee Childs’ Jack Reacher novels. I enjoy these books for many reasons, but partly because my gut wants to believe that someone will make the wrong in this world right. That someone out there will make sure those who have acted wickedly and grossly immoral will get their comeuppance. Jack does this in a limited way. He’s limited because he’s a human with his own sinful actions and his thoughts aren’t always pure. But reading these books helps me to shed my unbelief, namely that the wicked I see now will go unpunished. These stories make me hope for a final judgement. For Someone perfect, unlike Jack, to come to earth and make all things right once and for all.

2. Stories mature wonder, bringing doctrine to life.

“We are like astonishing tales because they touch the nerve of ancient instinct of astonishment.” — G. K. Chesterton

The book of Romans is masterpiece of logic and doctrine. Paul skillfully demonstrates his knowledge of Old Testament theology, the life of Jesus, and how it all connects for Christians who have been made alive. What I’m not saying here is that doctrine is boring. Romans in particular is one of my favorite books in Scripture. It’s a delight to read. But stories bring doctrine to life in a way that doctrine alone cannot. Stories create wonder and awe.

Paul understands this as he wrote Romans. His doctrine is attached back to the story of Israel—especially the Exodus—and what this means for Christians who have experienced this New Exodus from slavery to life. Also, a major theme in Romans is justification by faith and many have made the point (wrongly) that justification isn’t central to the Christian faith because Jesus never mentions it. However, what they miss is Jesus lives, walks, and breaths justification by faith. Jesus brings the doctrine to life—while Paul plumbs the story’s depth. Story and doctrine are protons and neutrons that make a complete atom. One without the other and you’ve got nothing.

3. Stories lay siege to our affections.

“We are essentially and ultimately desiring animals, which is simply to say that we are essentially and ultimately lovers. To be human is to love, and it is what we love that defines who are.” — James K. A. Smith

Stories have a way of grabbing our heads and our hearts. Suppose you were an atheists reading The Chronicles of Narnia and the crucial chapter is upon you. Aslan gives himself up for Edmund. He’s tied to the stone and wickedness and evil descend upon him. The darkness weighs in on the reader as well. In those short pages the reader is driven to grief and sadness, but Aslan doesn’t stay dead. He rises victoriously. Your heart will leap for joy as Aslan lives before your head realizes what your affections have been driven to. It could be days, months, or years. You may be minding your own business when a perfect stranger intersects with you and shares another story with you. “This Man died and rose from the dead,” she might say. For a second time your heart leaps for joy within you—even if for a moment. Why is that? Why did that happen? Because C. S. Lewis’ Aslan has already prepared your heart to hear the truth of the death, resurrection, and reign of Jesus Christ. Stories matter because they lay siege to our hearts and prepare our minds. They are a narrative catechism, as N. D. Wilson says, maturing our hearts and minds to love rightly.

4. Stories brighten our sense of imago Dei.

“We know God’s character through story.” — Peter Leithart

Ultimately stories brighten our sense of imago Dei. They remind us we were created by God and placed in a story. That story continues on today and we are part of it. As imago Dei, we are more aware of what’s happening around us when we realize this. We do not have a meaningless existence. We do not serve a utilitarian purpose. There is love, beauty, and truth in this story. We must pursue these things.

We also must create a story of our own. Some of us play our part by writing stories. Some play music, paint, engineer, farm, mother or father, or pick up trash. These are all beautiful because we are all imago Dei. Tolkien reminds us of this when he calls us “sub-creators” and Lewis when he says, “There are no ordinary people.” Consider the superhero genre and one of the major fixed pieces—the mask. It could be anyone. Any of us could have these powers and be extraordinary. It could be the geeky news reporter, the teenager living with his aunt, the reclusive billionaire, or the blind man. Stories brighten the sense of the divine in our hearts.

Stories should play a crucial role in discipleship. Choose wisely. Read broadly. Let the stories grab your heart as they form you into a more mature disciple of Jesus Christ.


Mathew B. Sims is the Editor-in-Chief at Exercise.com and has authored, edited, and contributed to several books including A Household GospelWe Believe: Creeds, Confessions, & Catechisms for WorshipA Guide for AdventMake, Mature, Multiply, and A Guide for Holy Week. Mathew, LeAnn (his wife), and his daughters Claire, Maddy, and Adele live in Taylors, SC at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains with their Airdale Terrier. They attend Downtown Presbyterian Church (PCA). Visit MathewBryanSims.com!

“I Could Tell You Some Stories . . . ”

“I could tell you some stories . . . ”

Remarked Charlie, before he was cut off by his next door neighbor Barton,

“Sure you could and yet many writers do everything in their power to insulate themselves from the common man, from where they live, from where they trade, from where they fight and love and converse and . . . ”

Barton was a writer who just moved from New York City to Hollywood to write for the motion pictures. His work and passion was the plight of the “common man” in America—the working class, regular “human experience.” The crowd that knew nothing of the world of the elite intelligentsia that Barton was a member. His first Broadway play, Bare Ruined Choirs, all about the “common man,” was a smashing success on Broadway. So much of a success that he landed himself a deal in Hollywood. So he left for California to share his stories of “the common man” with the masses.

The only problem is that Barton didn’t know the first thing about “the common man” and was so wrapped up in his vision of “the common man” that when a common man, like Charlie, wants to tell him about his life he is too involved in himself to listen.

Now, if this sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve sat through the strange, brilliant Coen Brothers film Barton Fink. An odd little flick about delusion, disillusion, and writer’s block.

I resonate with the scene above between Barton (John Turturro) and Charlie (John Goodman) more than I’d like to. It’s a convicting, albeit subtle, picture of how I tend to treat people.

Good Stories Breed Humility

I think I know way more about things than I actually do. My theology is airtight (or, at least I think it is). I’m decent at arguing, and I really want to fit things into my neat and tidy classifications. But a good story—a good movie—won’t let you do that.

In the last one hundred and twenty years the medium of the motion picture (movie) has become, arguably, the most popular and powerful way to communicate in story form. Usually running anywhere from twenty-odd minutes to eight plus hours long, a film creates a distinct reality and tells a story (or series of stories) in that reality. Sometimes that reality is real life. Sometimes it’s a galaxy far far away.

Partner—GCD—450x300Film has been a part of my life in an important way since I saw The White Balloon when I was about ten. I remember being blown away by how different the main character was than me. But at the same time, how similar. I thought I would have reacted just as the main character might have in the same situation—though I could never have imagined actually being in those situations (e.g., living in Iran, navigating a market in streets of Tehran). The story about an unremarkable person navigating an unremarkable situation somehow captured the beauty, emotions, and struggles of life in a remarkable way.

Since then, movies have been more than just entertainment to me. They’ve helped me understand my humanity—the backdrop for understanding the gospel.

I struggle to know what exactly it means to be human. I mean, yes, my “worldview” tells me the facts: created in the image of God, totally depraved, saved by Jesus, Jesus is marking me more like him—but meanwhile life is hard and I need a nap, one day I will die, then I’ll be with Jesus forever. But understanding those facts personally, hopefully, and joyfully is another story. My worldview is often just “life is hard and I usually need a nap.” I forget the beginning, most of the middle, and the end.

More than teaching new things, movies usually serve to remind us of what we already know in beautiful ways. Good movies remind me of what it means to be human—and above all, what it mean’s to be rescued by grace.

Films like The White Balloon and It’s a Wonderful Life remind me that it’s okay to be ordinary because there is something deeply, divinely extraordinary about the ordinary grind of work, family, and sacrifice. Something like Jeff Nichols’ 2007 film Shotgun Stories reminds me that I will never outgrow my need for grace because things will never (in this life) be fully as they were intended to be. Even a movie like Wolf of Wall Street reminds me that the atrocities of humanity deserve God’s wrath, myself included and indicted.

Not the Whole Story

Movies usually don’t tell whole story, but they tell stories that reflect the whole story.

In Mike Cosper’s new book The Stories We Tell, he masterfully articulates how the TV shows and movies we love give us glimpses into the human heart, created in the Image of God. A good movie “aims at the imagination,” says Cosper, “a much more mysterious and sneaky part of us, ruled by love, desire, and hope.”

For Christians, it can be tempting to be fearful or dismissive of these sorts of incomplete stories where the echo is somewhat faint, especially when they seem (on the surface) to contradict Christian values. But in reality a good film, uninhibited by pretense, can be a robust vehicle for gospel transformation. Alissa Wilkinson, the chief film critic at Christianity Today puts it this way,

“We tend to treat actual cultural artifacts in the way we sometimes treat the Bible: as ‘proof texts’ from which we can draw principles or truths for application. Though we love the Bible, we evangelicals in particular have often treated verses as if they stand alone, forgetting that the story in which they appear speaks just as much as the verses themselves.

Similarly, Christian critics can lean (lazily) into the idea that products of culture mainly exist as object lessons to be turned into ‘truths’ when we talk about them and figure out how they do or don’t line up with our beliefs.”

Instead of interacting with stories and people for what they are, it’s too easy to get upset because they are not as we want them to be.

We treat people like the media we produce. As we proof text media or Scripture, we end up proof texting people. “Post-moderns,” “liberals,” “fundamentalists,” or “millennials” become a standard way to disengage with the nitty-gritty humanness of the people around us.

The Gospel That Listens

But the gospel doesn’t operate in labels. God extends grace to unique, broken individuals. The only qualification for believing the gospel is honesty. Honestly acknowledging our need and inability to accept God’s grace and adoption. Like God’s questioning of Job in Job 38, we don’t need to have all the answers we just need to know who does.

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together And all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4-7)

A good movie won’t always reveal the whole systematic truth of life, but if you look closely, it can reveal glimpses of the Creator of truth.

These glimpses—taken for what they are and not just what we want them to be—have the ability to challenge, soften, and enlighten us. They give us lenses to understand different aspects of the human experience.

That scene in Barton Fink, remember, from our opening, isn’t profound because I’m trying to make it as a writer in Hollywood but because, in one way or another, I have many people around me, Christians and non-Christians, saying to me “I could tell you some stories . . . ”

By God’s grace, I’m learning to listen to those stories for what they are just as I’m learning to see movies for what they are—the image of God mixed with our humanity, humanly told.

Nick Rynerson lives in the west suburbs of Chicago with his groovy wife, Jenna. He is a staff writer for Christ and Pop Culture and a marketing coordinator at Crossway. Connect with him on Twitter @nick_rynerson or via email.

Haunted by Grace

This summer my wife and I moved from the medium sized central Illinois community of Normal to the Chicago suburbs. I grew up in Normal, went to college in Normal, and started my career in Normal—and I assumed I was going to spend the next few decades (at least) there. I don’t particularly like change and I don’t particularly like taking risks, so naturally the move has stretched me. The week before we closed on our house in the suburbs singer-songwriter Jason Isbell was passing through one of our favorite venues in central Illinois. My wife and I love Jason Isbell (and needed a date night) so we got there early to get a place to stand front and center.

It was a fantastic show—he puts on a great live performance. But about halfway through his set Isbell strums the first chords of “Alabama Pines,” and my wife and I both start weeping. “Alabama Pines”—an Americana ballad about feeling displaced, being away from home, and figuring out your identity amidst unfamiliarity—is one of our favorites and at the time was about as applicable as a song could be. In that moment, six feet from one of our favorite musicians, we were comforted in our insecurities, fears, and doubts. Even though we had never met, it seemed like Jason Isbell understood exactly what we were going through.

Once again, as happens often for me, music went beyond entertainment and became a means of grace.

Growing up, music was not just background noise but a world to explore. When most parents were playing children’s music or pop radio for their kids, I was being introduced to Buddy Holly, The Coasters, Chuck Berry, and Bob Dylan. My dad told me all sorts of stories about different musicians, studios, and venues that captured my imagination. Rock & Roll, Country, and the Blues were the folklore that implanted itself in my imagination, and like good folklore does, it filled me with wonder and awe.

Music was more than entertainment, it shaped me.

The love that I developed in childhood wasn’t just for music itself, but what it allowed me to express and articulate in remarkable detail. If I was upset I could listen to The Clash, who would identify with my angst. If I was sad I could listen to Bright Eyes lament. If I was feeling like I didn’t have a friend in the world, the Flaming Lips could always reassure me that there are people who are just as weird as me. Music naturally became a sort of language for me to articulate—if only to myself—what I was thinking and feeling.

Rock & Roll Music: Unredeemable Smut?

When I became a Christian, I thought I had to give up my love of the “secular” music that I grew up on. Like many who come from an unchurched background, I had to wrestle to understand how the things that I loved before I became a Christian should be incorporated in my new life. Before I was a Christian I certainly resounded with the refrain in Wilco’s “Sunken Treasure,”

Music is my savior I was maimed by rock and roll I was maimed by rock and roll I was tamed by rock and roll I got my name from rock and roll

When Jesus saved me I woke up to the reality that Rock & Roll is a lousy savior. I’m too big of a sinner to be saved by Rock & Roll. I needed Jesus.

But did that mean I must stay away from Rock & Roll altogether?

After much trial and error, counsel, prayer, and grace I realized I loved music for a God-given reason. God, in making man in his image, made humans musical creatures. It is our natural response to sing and express ourselves. From sports teams (you never walk alone!) to national anthems to love songs. We seem bent on expressing our loyalty, our love, and our sorrow through non-rational, rhythmic aesthetics. That is why Martin Luther said,

“I truly desire that all Christians would love and regard as worthy the lovely gift of music, which is a precious, worthy, and costly treasure given mankind by God. . . . Our dear fathers and prophets did not desire without reason that  music be always used in the churches. Hence we have so many songs and psalms.”

It is easy to see how we are discipled by music in the context of a worship service, but what about Rock & Roll? Country? How could that disciple us in anything other than debauchery and paganism?

By having my eyes opened to the real world—a world created by God, haunted by grace but caught in sin—I could see the image of God in the music I loved. It was my idolatry that was the problem.

Music as a Means of Grace

In 1 Samuel 16, when Saul is harassed by an evil spirit, it is the soothing, skillful lyre of David that brings relief. When Adam meets his bride Eve in Genesis 2 he responds in song. And in Acts when Paul wants to show how close to the gospel the Greeks were, he read them their own poetry—a musical literary genre. Music acts as a relief of the soul and a longing for the divine, even when we don’t intended it to be such.

Partner—GCD—450x300Let’s jump back to the Jason Isbell show for a minute. As we were there having a good time and listening to some tunes, something happened. “Alabama Pines” struck our hearts and hit us square in the chest. At that moment the emotions and aesthetics of that song acted as a kind counselor by identifying and validating what we were going through. It was just for a moment, but it was nonetheless moving and cathartic. Isbell didn’t mean for his song to comfort us in our spiritual affliction, he probably just meant to write a good song.

Likewise, Jeff Tweedy of Wilco has said that the guitar solo in his song “At least that’s what you said” is a musical representation of what his anxiety attacks feel like. Tweedy expressed, as best as he knew how, a complicated emotional state and wound up creating something profound. I can hear my own anxiety, unbelief, and fear in his guitar. It does for me what David’s lyre did for Saul, and in that I can see the kindness of a God who relates to and understands his children.

When I am feeling hardhearted (which is often, if I am honest) there is music that tenderizes my heart and reminds me of God’s grace. Often this music is not explicitly theologically-driven or written by people who claim to be Christians. My wife and I chose The Avett Brothers’ gentle ballad “Murder In The City” for our first dance because of it’s softening power and beautiful picture of humble love. The same comes over me when I listen to A.A. Bondy’s album “American Hearts,” an album ripe with biblical imagery and poetic beauty.

These are what theologian Jerram Barrs would call “echoes of Eden.” Pictures of the way the world was supposed to be and a glimpse at the coming Kingdom.

Grace in “Secular” Music

Is there sin in “secular” music? Yes.That’s because it is made by sinners. But those sinners are also made in the image of God. Therefore, we have something to learn from even the least holy music.

The seemingly “secular” or “profane” always hold some divine significance in the world created exclusively by God.

That does not mean we should not be discerning. In fact, it means we should be extremely discerning! As I listen for God’s voice in the unpredictable world of Rock & Roll music, I find things that are not upbuilding that I do not want to identify with. But for all the unhealthy and broken music there is so much beauty and truth.

The temptation is to ingest music uncritically with little care or thought to the significance of the music being consumed or to find spiritual significance only in explicitly Christian music. Outside of the occasional time Coldplay talks about heaven, we hardly realize that we music has a profound spiritual quality.

We have access to our culture’s hymn book, and if we took the time to read it we might find what Paul found, that “He is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27).

It takes a heart awake to grace to perceive nonbelievers perceiving God’s attributes. The more we understand the gospel, the more we will begin to realize that God’s grace is so close, so tangible that non-Christians sing about it without even knowing they are singing about it. Grace sometimes offends our religious sensibilities by being so visible in lives of those who have no religious sensibilities.

Do you think that Paul would’ve been comfortable quoting Greek poets or acknowledging that “his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” before he was awake to the gospel of Jesus? Even in describing the sin of humanity, Paul wanted the Romans to know that their pagan neighbors perceived the reality of God.

I’ve found that the more I understand God’s grace (which still isn’t very much), the more I am open to seeing God’s grace in places I wouldn’t think to look for it. That’s why I dumped my love for music when I first became a Christ and why I soon came back to it. As the Holy Spirit continually grows our understanding of God’s grace, we will see it in places we could’ve never imagined it would be—like Rock & Roll music.

Nick Rynerson lives in the west suburbs of Chicago with his groovy wife, Jenna. He is a staff writer for Christ and Pop Culture and a marketing coordinator at Crossway. Connect with him on Twitter @nick_rynerson or via email.