Summary: The need of the church to be culturally relevant.
These are important words because they tell us that these men from Issachar realized that changes were taking place in their nation & they needed to respond to those changes. Not only that, but they were the kind of men who could make the right decisions. Like the men of Issachar, we need to be aware of the cultural changes and be prepared to meet the challenge of reaching an ever-changing culture with the Gospel message. A recent survey said that 1/3 of Americans do not go to church because it is irrelevant! In addition, 1 out of 3 teenagers are involved in a youth group, but asked if they would continue after high school and only a 1/3 of that third said yes! Why, it is just not relevant to them. The word relevant means a traceable, significant and logical connection between things. If you had a problem with your car, you would not take it to a veterinarian. The help that you would be offered would not be relevant to your problem. The church needs to take the timeless principles found in the Bible and make them relevant to peoples lives. The key word in all our teaching and preaching needs to be life application. We need to constantly be answering the question how does this apply to me today. So we need to understand the times that we live in, and we strive to make the Bible relevant to people today. Beyond this though, because we are not just relevant to be relevant, we have a purpose in mind with this. We want the church to become a place in which God can come and work in our lives.
I. We stay in step with the culture by understanding the changes that are taking place.
A. The sons of Issachar were men who understood the culture in which they lived.
1. You cannot change the culture in which you live if you do not understand the culture.
2. Pray—ask God to give you insight into your community and show you where the needs are.
3. Read—newspaper, magazines, community news, books. Anything that will give you insight into modern culture.
B. We need to gain an understanding of the place of the church in our culture.
1. Only forty-one percent of Americans attend church services on a normal weekend.
2. Each generation in our culture becomes increasingly unchurched.
a. The builder generation (Born prior to 1946)—51% attend regularly.
b. The baby boomers (Born 1946-1964)—41% attend regularly.
c. The baby busters (Born 1965-1976)—34% attend regularly.
d. The bridgers generation (Born 1977-1994)—26% attend regularly.
3. Only one person is reached for Christ for every 85 church members in America.
4. America is becoming less Christian, less evangelized and more unchurched.
5. Too many in our churches are oblivious to the moral pit our culture is rapidly descending into.
6. Could it be that we have developed more of a concern for comfort and maintaining the status-quo rather than a concern for the unchurched?
II. We stay out of step with the world by standing firm of the principles found in God’s Word.
A. There many myths that have developed concerning the unchurched and what they desire in a church.
1. There are churches that have openly accepted homosexuality and abortions.
2. The rationale is that God’s Word has contradictions in it so we have to interpret it in the light of modern times and according to our logic.
3. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. (2 Timothy 3:16—NLT)
4. 91% of formerly unchurched said they chose a church where the preaching and teaching presented deep biblical truths and clear doctrine.
B. We have the most amazing message in the world, the message that God came to earth and made a way for us to have forgiveness and a new life filled with hope, and meaning, and joy.
1. We cannot let ourselves become content in keeping this message within the walls of the church.
2. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20—NIV)
3. We are not here to simply hang out and have a good time; God has created us for a mission.
4. God made us for each other, we are not designed to live in isolation never having people truly know us, and never truly knowing others. We are to be a family; we are to “do life together.”
5. We do not want this group to be a bunch of baby believers; we want everyone who comes in to begin a process of becoming more like Jesus.