They took him and brought him to the Areopagus and said, “May we learn about this new teaching you’re speaking of? For what you say sounds strange to us, and we want to know what these ideas mean.” Acts 17: 19

 

How much of what we do in a regular Sunday morning worship service would look strange to the average unchurched person?  Certainly the things we say and the truths we proclaim would sound foreign to the ears of many, but what about the manner in which we say those things?  What would it be like to be in their shoes trying to process these truths in unfamiliar ways? 

Our first inclination might be to say that these are not strange or foreign truths, and perhaps, as little as 15 years ago, we would be correct.  However, the data tells us it’s simply not the case any longer.  More and more Americans are becoming increasingly ignorant of what you and I might consider basic fundamental Christian truths.  What we are saying sounds strange to them.

Secondly, we might think the manner in which we express these truths is not a matter of great importance; however, experience tells us that we tend to better learn and process new information when it is delivered to us via a familiar medium.  Case in point, in the midst of the economic crisis our country faced when the housing market crashed, I struggled to understand what exactly had occurred.  I heard many news reports and banking experts, and I consider myself of decent intelligence, but I could not get a grasp on what had happened no matter how hard I tried.  Until, that is, someone sent me a simple, animated cartoon that used images with which I was familiar.  As juvenile as it may sound, it was at that point that it clicked.

I imagine it must be similar for those who are strangers to Christianity.  It certainly was for the Athenians we read about in Acts.  These men were very intelligent but didn’t understand what Paul was discussing with them in the marketplace, concerning salvation and resurrection.   Those things sounded strange to them.  So what did Paul do?  Did he get out the Old Testament scrolls and show them through the law and the prophets what Jesus accomplished?  No, instead he used images and examples, drawn from their own culture, to communicate those same truths to them in a way in which they could more easily process and understand them.  Some rejected his teaching outright, but others, now able to understand, asked to hear more.

See Paul was a missionary, and being a missionary he comprehended the importance of learning the heart language of the community with which he was sharing.  If we truly want to reach the people in our community then we must be willing to do the same.  They may have ears that are curious and ready to receive the gospel, but we must seek ways to speak it in a language they understand.  Our message must never change, but the medium through which we deliver that message must stay relevant to the people we intend to reach.  Our worship should not be so foreign to the stranger among us that they struggle to understand it.

I’ll leave you with this thought from one of our North Carolina Baptist leaders, he writes, “Why are we willing to sacrifice tradition and cultural preferences to travel around the world but not willing to make those same sacrifices across the aisle or in our communities?”  How can we at ROS ensure we are providing adequate means by which someone who needs the gospel can hear and understand it, without compromising the truth of our proclamation?  Feel free to contact me with your thoughts and ideas.


JUNE NEWS:

  • We are continuing to meet throughout the summer months with our entire worship team most Wednesday evenings at 7:30pm.  However, be aware that, due to certain summer events, this practice time will be in flux.  Check your bulletin and email frequently for updated schedules

Our Kid’s Praise has a new time and a new home! We will now meet 15 minutes prior to the start of Mission Friends, Sprouts, and Tweens in the upstairs Children Church room.Come join us!!

  • Our Second Annual ROSBC’s Got Talent is scheduled for next month, July 24th.  Sign-ups will be available soon.  This is NOT a singing show only.  If you have any hidden talents (acrobatics, dancing, comedy, magic, sword-swallowing, etc.) we want to see them.  Consider joining us in all the fun!

One last personal note: 

 

As many of you know, my grandmother, Jewell Idol, passed away last month.  She was a Christian and so I am assured of the abundant life she is now living; however, dealing with the loss on this end of eternity can sometimes be difficult.  Through your cards, prayers, phone calls, and messages you made this difficulty much easier to bear.  On behalf of myself and my entire family, allow me to say a heart-felt thank you.  It means so much to serve alongside family like you.


In His Service,


Jonathan Hendrickson

Assoc. /Worship Pastor

 

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4109 Guess Road
Durham, NC 27712

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