Educational Ministry of the Church - Lesson 13
A key element for effective education to take place is for teachers to know their students relationally.
Congruence: Whom do we teach?
I. Two Commitments
A. The World of the Learner
B. The Timeless Word of God
II. What should we know about our learners?
A. Spiritual level
B. Points of common ground
C. Age group
D. Daily experiences
E. Values, dreams, hobbies
H. Ethnicity or Nationality
J. Socio-economic status
K. The age
III. How do we learn these things?
B. Not through books
IV. Culture and Ethnicity
A. Area of weakness
B. Should be a priority
C. Touches all seven questions
C. Ethnic group
Seven questions that provide a framework for choosing and implementing curriculum.
Our misconceptions about Christian education can cause us to choose poor or inaccurate content and use ineffctive strategies.
The three essential tasks of the Church are worship, outreach and teaching.
Christian formation focuses on the process of becoming more like Christ.
Instructions for spiritual education from passages in the Old Testament and New Testament.
History of Christian education from the early church to modern Sunday school.
The Heidelberg Catechism provides essential elements for a Christian education curriculum.
The Torah contains the essence of what God wants us to know. Jesus clarifies and exemplifies the Torah.
A CORE curriculum should be Comprehensive, Orthodox, Reforming and focused on Essentials. Delivery systems may include bible studies, small groups, Sunday school and sermons.
The Ten Commandments are the basis for Old Testament Law and the core teaching of the New Testament.
Tailoring curriculum by taking into peoples' physical and spiritual developmental stages can make teaching more effective.
Tailoring curriculum by taking into peoples' physical and spiritual developmental stages can make teaching more effective.
A key element for effective education to take place is for teachers to know their students relationally.
Effective teachers know their audience and avoid attitudes and expressions that would create obstacles to communication.
Asking the right questions about the curriculum and the audience can help you identify what information to emphasize and how to present it effectively.
How you define teaching determines content and strategy.
Effective teaching engages the whole person.
When preparing curriculum, an effective teacher will take into account both the content and the audience.
Many people fill the role of teacher in your life at different times and in various ways.
Christian education involves recruiting, training, modeling, organizing and supporting people who volunteer to teach.
Being trained in skills for conflict resolution helps you to have realistic expectations and gives you the tools you need to effectively resolve situations as they arise.
Through this course, you will gain a deep understanding of the educational ministry of the church, its foundations, principles of teaching and learning, and the development of an effective educational ministry. You will also explore strategies for different age groups, including children, youth, and adults, and learn how to address contemporary issues such as cultural relevance, technology, media, and special needs inclusivity.
Educational Ministry of the Church
Dr. Gary Parrett
The home question is who am I teaching? And the word we linked to it is congruence. Cultural congruence in education is the idea of teaching in ways that are culturally relevant, culturally appropriate to your learner. The word culture, of course, is a huge, complicated word, and we're going to explore that a little bit together today. But before we get to the word culture and talk about issues of congruence under that head, I want to just ask the question in real simple terms. If I am someone who's a pastor of a congregation or a Sunday school teacher of a child or a youth minister or an adult minister, I have two essential commitments that I need to make. And some Christian educators have tried to illustrate this by use of this little diagram, which is supposed to be that's supposed to be a split rail fence. It's not exactly, but that's what it's supposed to be. One Christian educator has worked with this a lot recently as Jim Bitterman from Wheaton, who taught at Wheaton College and Christian Education. But here's here's the Christian Educators Challenge. Down here is the world of the learner. This is the world of the learner. And this is an ever shifting world. It's like that great line from the philosopher. You can't step in the same river twice. Up here is the timeless word of God. So we have the timeless word of God, and we have the ever changing world of the learner. And the teacher's role is the post. The teacher's job is to be assisting in making those connections between the timeless Word of God and the ever changing world of the learner.
That's what the teacher does for him. And just as a by the way here for clued him in, the teacher always starts down here. The teacher always starts where the learner is and then brings them to the point of application to the word. How does that sound to you? You always start where the learner is and then you bring them to the word. What do you think about that? In fact, let me let me push this idea a little bit further. I don't think it's out of the realm of feasibility at all to say that Jesus was truly cross-cultural in his ministry because he left the culture that he was familiar with, in a sense, forever and forever, eternally existing in the glory of God. And He took on human flesh and he came and pitched his tent amongst us. John 114 Tabernacle in our midst. That's that's if ever there is a model for incarnation, I'll minister easily. Colby could also call a cross-cultural ministry. However, there is a model for that. Jesus was that model. The idea that we can even know the world apart from our own place in the world. So I wouldn't say that that necessarily means that this is not valid. But what it may mean is that we need to put another piece into the puzzle here. If I'm a teacher and as a teacher, I'm charged to help this connection take place, I have to at least be mindful of the fact that my own connection to the word is, in a sense, culturally mediated, right? The word I believe the word itself. The word itself is absolute. The word itself is unchanging. The word itself is timeless. The word itself is living and active and powerful.
And the word is relevant. Whether I see it or not. The word is absolute, absolute, absolute. But my knowledge of the word is not right. There is absolute truth. I believe that. Fundamentally, do I have absolute knowledge of that truth? If I think so, I'm I shouldn't be a Christian educator. Let me expand a little bit upon this here. If if this is true in any sense, and I think it's true with the with the caveat that you gave to us, which is very important, that I should not be naive to think that as a teacher, I am not part of this whole cultural thing. I've got my own cultural blinders and my own cultural understanding, and they absolutely do affect my understanding of the scripture. So I need to be aware of that. But in some sense, this is in fact the job of the teacher when we get to the the challenge of what is teaching. I'm going to say that to teach is to come alongside another for an encounter together with the truth, to teach us, come alongside another for an encounter together. The truth. I want to help somebody see the truth and encounter the truth more clearly. So in a sense, yeah, this is my role. I am part of making this connection to do it with integrity. I have to. Make sure that word's also connecting with me and changing me and challenging me. But if that's true, then that means that as a teacher, I have to fundamental at least two fundamental duties. I must be a student of this word and know it very, very well and go as deep as I possibly can. But I also need to be a student of my students. I need to know those that I'm called to minister to.
I need to know them just as surely as Jesus. Absolutely. Jesus is no air of the word. We know that. Nobody knows the word as Jesus does. But Jesus also knows this world. Take passages like Hebrews two. In order to lead many sons to glory, he had to be made like this in every conceivable way. He tasted what we tasted. His commitment to knowing us extended to the point that he allowed himself to be tempted in all points, even as we are tempted yet without sin. That's how committed he was to knowing us. But we think about Paul first Corinthians nine, who says, I become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. That's the same commitment as Paul committed to the word absolutely, as he committed to the world in terms of understanding of those he's ministering to. Absolutely. To those under the law. I became like one under the law to those without the law. I became like one not under the law. So this commitment is two fold. I think the the chart is useful in that sense. And there's another sense, if you think about the way Jesus talked, the way Jesus taught. Think of the parables, for example, in the parables using this analogy, what Jesus is clearly doing is what clued him and is talking about He's starting here. A sower went out to sow seeds. He's starting with something that's real tangible for them, and he's going to bring that story to to bear on the message of the kingdom. So he's going to go from the world up to where their experience is the point, that point of having to make the connection. Now, that's important. I need to know these learners and I need to help them see the connection.
That's why preachers come up with illustrations. That's why teachers ask questions. That's why Jesus told parables, because we're going to help connection to the real world. However, I would say that instead of we saying we start here personally, I don't think that's where we start. I think actually just the opposite is true. I think we start here. The teacher starts with an understanding of what is the word and what does God want to say to people. And then I understand what God wants to say to people. That's my primary and basic orientation that's going to drive my ministry. I don't necessarily start by doing market analysis of what do my people want to hear? I start by asking, What does God want to say? And I try to discern that as faithfully as I can. That relates to the what question? What am I to teach? This relates starting down here may relate to the how question. So once I have determined what is to be taught, then I can wrestle with the question of how do I teach that? And now it may make sense. In order to teach this, which I've determined I must teach. Let me start where people are at. Is it always the case that I do that? Not necessarily. Even so, it may be helpful to do this. Much of the time, that's what Jesus does with the parables. But when Jesus sits his disciples down in the Sermon on the Mount and opens his mouth and begins to teach, I don't think it's necessarily starting at the bottom rail and going up. He's starting with the top rail here, but he will make the connections. So even in the how question, it doesn't matter to me so much where I start.
What matters is that a connection be made. But fundamentally, I think this is more important to us. That's why I had problems as a youth ministry teacher when the publishers sent me materials and said, We're so relevant, we don't even get to the Bible to the last 5 minutes of the Bible. And they were really boasting about that material after materials saying, I'm so relevant, we're so relevant. We've done them all. You know, start with a CD and you play it and then you talk. And this is a song from popular culture and you play that and then later we'll get them scriptural by playing a song from Christian music. And yeah, it's a little bit of over overkill here, but clearly this much we can we can take away, not just necessarily using this illustration, but a teacher, a pastor, a Christian has this two commitments that we're passionate about. Make me a student of the word. Make me a student of the people you've called me to minister. Personally, if I had to choose one for emphasis, I'm going to choose the word. But make me a student of both and then help me to help people see the connection. That's part of preaching. That's part of teaching. We help people see connections. So here's here's the question, though. If I'm a student of the world, I come to seminary. If I'm a student of the world, perhaps I come to seminary. Probably. There's a lot of folks who are outside of the seminary who know the word even better. But if I'm a student of the world and let's not use a world in general, but let's say my learners and I'm a student of a learner. Let me ask first of all, what what do I need to know about a person? What kind of things are useful pieces of information for me to have if I want to be able to help make that connection? I want to achieve some congruence in my teaching.
What are some kinds of components here? Let's put down some of the things that we might want to understand. Spiritual, maybe their spiritual level. Is that what you're getting at, where they're at in their understanding of the faith, understanding of scripture? Okay. What else? So let me see if I can find some points of common ground, because in terms of making connection, that would be critical. But in order for me to know of that, what are some other things that I need to know about the person that I'm called the most? I want to know their levels not only spiritual, but other developmental levels. It's going to make a difference to me whether my audience is three year old or 33 year old. It should anyway. I think that Martin Luther, though, said that any preacher ought to be able to preach in a way that a young child can understand him. And if he's not preaching that way, he's probably not communicating the word well. But what else might I want to know? Okay. How about their daily experiences? I do want to know this. I want to know something about what's going on at home. What are they facing in their school environment? If they're a student, where they face it in their job environment, if they're learning Paul Stevens, who's so committed to ministering to the common person in the church, every member of the church, not just the clergy ministry. To do that more effectively, spent his sabbatical from reading college recently, go into people's offices for a week at a time. He just went to people from his church and found out where they were working. Said, Can I hang out with you for a week? And he went and stayed in their office week at a time.
Just try to see what their world was. So what's their experience like? What else do I want to know? Okay, now it's related to experience. What are their values? What's important to them? We could add words like this What are their dreams and aspirations and what are their hobbies and what are their joys? All kinds of things at that level. What else? Yeah, it's a good thing to know. Obviously, you know, we could get carried away with probably too much focus on any of these things. But why not try to find out? What are your expectations here? Why did you come to church? Why did you come to this small group? What are you. What are you hoping for? What are you looking for? What else would I want to know? To be able to really connect with the person? That's what cultural congruence is all about. Really. Finding connection with tradition, their traditions. I can think of a couple of things related to this then. What do I know about this person's family background? The family traditions. The family status? Is it is this a family that's together or as a family, the split? And what do I know about this person's church background culture? Yeah. What do I know about culture? Let's add another word next to this. Let's add the word ethnicity. Maybe we want to add a word like nationality. What do I know about these things? Because that will also give me a huge insight into who this person is if I know where they've been raised, what that culture is like, that'll help. Anything else? Yeah. I'd want to know a person's gender. I think sometimes it's not as obvious today as it used to be, but. But I'd want to know.
You know, it's. There's a whole lot we could say here, but I'm not going to do that. But the fact is, as we even saw in our little discussion of Colbert, this does make a difference. And as a teacher, I have to be paying attention to this. Yeah. How about their socioeconomic status? Another huge factor, socioeconomic status. There's also all kinds of things. The list goes on and on, personality, learning styles, all kinds of things. Now, if those are the kinds of things I need to know as part of my commitment to know not only the word but know the world, so I can follow Paul and I can follow Jesus in this kind of incarnation or ministry, how am I going to get at this stuff? How am I going to get this stuff? Hang out with them? Sometimes we'll think the answer is, Oh, let's add one more thing here. Not only do I need to know the person's age, but I need to know the age in which they live. What are the times like? What's going on in the Times? We talked about timely emphases in our teaching. What's going on in the Times? Because of this, one of our temptations might be, Well, the best way for me to know my learners is to read books about things. So let. You read books about Gen X? You know, I'll read all the books about Gen X and I'll be qualified to minister to them. Or if I'm called to minister to an inner city African-American community, then let me go and find all the books that I can on ministering to African-Americans when I read the books and I'll be ready for the job. Well, a book may be a helpful thing, but I don't think it will ever substitute for me hanging out with them.
There is no substitute for that when you look at the complexities here. There is just no substitute for time spent together. If you studied a book on Gen X, by the time you finish the book, guess what? The rivers moved on. The rivers moved on. So it may be helpful to some extent, but you can't step in the same river twice. Fact Your very step into the river changes the river so you can't step in the same river once. It turns out there is a there is no better commitment than to do what Jesus did, which is to be with people, to be with people. Those that he was going to minister to, he was with them. And Paul said to the Thessalonians four Thessalonians chapter one, you know, that I made it my point not only to give you the gospel, but we gave you our very lives, and there's no substitute for that. That's part of what we mean by incarnation or ministry. Now what I want to do is just look at one of these aspects, and that's the issue of culture and ethnicity. And I'm going to do this as an example of and we're just sort of able to sample all these pieces here. We're just going to sample one area of knowing a person. So we're look at culture and ethnicity has just a sample of one area in which we need to know our learners. But the reason I want to use this one is partly because of the way I wanted to use the Ten Commandments last time. I see the Ten Commandments as an area that really is weak in terms of fundamental things that Christians ought to know. The Ten Commandments represents a real weak spot in modern evangelicalism.
I think our cultural awareness, cultural literacy and cultural sensitivity as an area both have real weakness in much of the evangelical church in North America today, number one, and an area of absolute priority given the changing face of the world. And if we're not going to be faithful here, we're unlikely going to be faithful in ministry if we're not able to cross a culture sensitively today, I don't know how we're going to be ready for the next century based on how we're going to minister to it. You know, by the year 2050, if projections hold true, white people will no longer represent a majority in the United States. Where are you going to go? You know, unless you if you're going to hang out in a couple of spots, you're going to be you're going to be challenged to wrestle with this. And not only that, but the world itself grows smaller and smaller day by day. It's bigger and bigger, but it's smaller and smaller day by day. So we have to be sort of alert here. We're going to do that for that reason. And then the other reason this one is because I see this whole issue as touching really all of the questions, all seven questions, for example, why do we minister? We went back to the Great Commission. What did the great commission say? Make disciple of all this? All ethno are all ethnic, all the ethnic groups, all the ethnic peoples of the world. So right from the get go, our commitment is a commitment for all people. What was the what question? What part of our what is we teach the story. Guess what? And you get to the end of the story and Revelation seven nine and there before the throne, I looked and saw people from every nation, tribe and tongue.
When we tell the story, when the story is concluded, the whole of humanity is represented. And part of what we teach is the Christian way. And the Christian way can be summed up in two words Love the Lord your God with heart, soul, mine, strength. Love your neighbor as yourself. Well, who is my neighbor? Who is my name. It's interesting to me that when Jesus answered that question, he made a hero of the story, a Samaritan whom in my teaching, or as we saw from the Great Commission, we're committed to teach all people and we are fundamentally called to ministered to them by knowing them. Things like, How do I teach? One of the ways Jesus taught his disciples without any question, one of the ways Jesus prepared his disciples for global ministry was by making them cross cultures and made them cross cultures. Read John for and experience this collaboration with the disciples as they hang out for two days harvesting in some area. Why? Well, because eventually they were going to be witnesses and Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the earth. So the how question automatically shaped their context. Where did they learn? They got out of their comfort zones. They were brought into the real world. So all of these questions in some ways are touched by this question. What did we leave off here? The wind question, the developmental understanding. As I move from one culture to the next culture and my present understanding is challenged, but especially the WHO question who do I need to be to be engaged in ministry today, in this day and this age? Who do I need to be? This is spoken to largely under the issue of culture. So the issue of ministering across cultures is a tricky one, to say the least.
But as we already saw, it's got some some important implication for all of the questions that we're going to ask. I want to just look at this a little bit with us in regard to a number of those things. I mentioned that by the year 2050, the face of the United States will change dramatically. Here's the projections from May 199 census numbers to the projections of July one, 2050. Maybe the key number to look at here is the number of white non-Hispanics. 71% here are about 52% here. And this is this is estimates based on those that will match the legal numbers. So if we wanted to add into a numbers of residents who want to officially be counted, that's why many people say that by the year 2050, if not sooner, white non-Hispanic Americans will represent a non majority in the United States. So the face is changing. And as we said, also, the world itself is changing. It's taking on a different shape day by day as we get bigger. In one sense, population keeps growing, but smaller for sure. In another sense, you have kids. Kids in the United States whose best friend, new best friend lives in Fiji. They're related to each other via email or something like that. So the world is getting smaller. Smaller people travel all the time. People move so much we're going to be called upon, no doubt in our ministry. Most of us are going to be called to minister with and among people that we know very little about. And how are we going to do that? First of all, there are some definitions I want to just go over really quickly with you of related terms, race, ethnicity and culture. And let me show you how these terms relate to each other a little bit.
Race is a word that we use in different ways. But here's here's one way of looking at race. Christine Bennett in a book on multicultural education, defined race as an erroneous concept. We'll come back to this word erroneous in just a minute. An erroneous concept used to divide humankind into broad categories according to physical characteristics such as size and shape of head, eyes, ears, lips, nose, color, skin and eyes. Two things about this definition. First of all, we may disagree with the idea that this is an erroneous concept. We might, however, at least confess that is a grossly exaggerated concept, and it's a concept that's been hugely abused. The key thing about race really is over here for us is the idea that it relates to distinguishing people based on physical attributes, physical characteristics, so color of skin size and shape of head and eyes, etc. We know for sure how badly this has been abused in time. There has been a time early nineties when Bennett wrote this, it was pretty unpopular to acknowledge any kind of distinguish distinctions between peoples at all. It's less and less a problem to do so today. People admit that there are distinctions. But biblically, Paul says in next Chapter 17 that if you want to think race, well, it turns out we're all from one blood. We're all from one seed that God populated the whole Earth. So race doesn't seem to be, in any case, a creation distinction. If anything, maybe it's a distinction that occurs over time as people move to various parts of the world, populations move to one area or another. Lots of intermarriage. Changes things in terms of features, but its physical characteristics. And it's at least an exaggerated concept used to divide people.
If you think about someone's race and on the level of race and then think about a Christian obligation toward that person of race. Give me one word that expresses, well, our obligation. I meet somebody from a different race. What's my obligation to that person? Love. Love your neighbor as yourself. End of story. That's the way I see it. If I see someone and physically, on the basis of physical differences, whether it's racial or maybe it's someone who has a physical handicap of some sort, my obligation is clear. It's love. So I love my neighbor as myself. Culture is a more complicated term. Culture is a term. Here's a couple of definitions. I'll give you two here. This is Bennett again, culture. She defines as a system of shared knowledge and belief. Shared knowledge and belief that shapes human perceptions and generates human social behavior. A system of shared knowledge and belief that shapes human perceptions and generates social behavior. Now we've see you see that when you get to culture, we've moved away from issues of physical characteristics. This is beliefs. This is values. This is perceptions. This is behavior. Another definition, this is a Christian thinker, Bruce Nichols, 1980. And this is part of a good book called Down to Earth Down to Earth, edited by Stott and COO John Stott, and someone else named C or T, They edited a book called Down to Earth Essays on Christianity and Culture. It's a helpful book. In this book, Bruce Nichols design defines culture this way. Culture is the total design for living of a people involving the sum total of behavioral patterns learned by instruction, observation and imitation. Again, notice the clear distinction here. Not physical stuff at all. We're talking about culture is the total design for living of a people, the sum total of behavioral patterns.
And how is that learned instruction, observation and imitation? That's Nichols One more, actually, on culture. Nichols says later something that flows out of this reality. Unlike race, where I look at a person and the answer is love, unlike the issue of race, culture is never neutral. We might want to say culture is almost never neutral. That might be a little bit of space for debate here, but he's probably right. Culture, in fact, is never neutral. It's always a strange complex of truth and error, beauty and ugliness, good and evil, seeking God and rebelling against him. Why would that be so? Well, because culture is a human construction. Culture is a human construction. And what do we know about humans? We know Genesis one, and we know Genesis three. We know Genesis one, that humans are created in the image of God, therefore valuable, precious. And if I encounter a culture which is a human construction, undoubtedly I'm going to find evidence of that. So in any culture, if I go and hang out long enough and learn and listen and pay attention, I will find out that there are people in that culture and there are things about that culture which actually reflect the image of God, almost any culture. But I also find lots of evidence of Genesis three. There will be plenty of traces of Genesis three in most any culture. So I tried to point this out earlier today by using that example from Korean culture. Taught me a lot that I never learned in my white American evangelical culture about respecting older people. But on the other hand, I see that same beautiful thing taken to an ungodly kind of degree of application number of times. Why? There's no perfect culture.
There is no perfect human culture. There's going to be in any human culture, something wonderful. There's going to be in any human culture, something not so wonderful. Now, take a third definition here, ethnic group, and then see how ethnic group relates to the two above definitions. An ethnic group is is a group of people within a larger society that is socially distinguished or set apart by others and or by itself. So someone may call this group an ethnic group, or they may call themselves a group within a larger society. But the distinguishing is primarily on the basis of racial and or cultural characteristics such as religion, language and tradition. Take a moment to look at that and process it. A group of people within a larger society, socially distinguished or set apart by others and or by itself, primarily on the basis of racial and or cultural characteristics such as religion, language, and tradition. What? You see if you pay attention here is that an ethnic group is a merging together of these two concepts. An ethnic group may be an ethnic group that set apart based to some extent on racial characteristics. It's kind of interesting, by the way, that Bennett says race is an erroneous concept elsewhere, and she uses it here. So it's kind of interesting. Physical characteristics. In other words, an ethnic group may be partly defined as a group within a larger group because of physical characteristics. Or it could be because of language and culture or some combination of those things. That means if I cross ethnic boundaries from my ethnic background into another ethnic background, that when I meet these people, then I'm called to minister to, or if I move across nations into another national background, I'm probably going to bump into both of these factors, physical characteristics and cultural characteristics.
If I encounter physical characteristics, my obligation is love your neighbor as yourself. If I encounter cultural characteristics, I still love my neighbor as myself. But what that looks like is a little complicated. Let me show you a little continuum of possibility here on the idea of culture. Let's use a continuum here of culture being made up of human factors. Therefore, some reflect Genesis one. Some reflect Genesis three. That means seeing some things that reflect Genesis one, probably in almost any culture. As I move into that culture, I will find some things that can be celebrated. There are some things in this culture which will reflect the stamp of God, some of that creativity from Genesis one, and I celebrate that. I'll go in and I'll celebrate that, by the way, as I go into the culture. Here's a couple of things to keep in mind going in my mindset. Maybe my first orientation needs to be I'm in this culture as a guest. I moved into this culture as a guest. I am to take on Matthew 25 sort of language. On the one hand, Jesus says, I was a stranger and you invited me in. But now there's times when I become the stranger and I move into someone's culture. So let me go in first as a guest. I'm not the master here to come in and exercise authority over you. I'm a visitor. Other words that I would use here I go in as a learner. I go in as a student. I go in as a student. So I go in as a guest. And then I also go in as a I go in as a learner. So I go in. I'm a visitor now. I go in not primarily to teach, but to learn.
So let me learn. And then finally, after I establish relationship as a guest and a learner, then I put on this hat. I'm a servant and a servant in the culture. Sometimes that means I'm. I'm the one who brings a gospel to a culture. Sometimes it means to those believers who are already in this culture, I bring a challenge to them. But this needs to be grounded in a sense of humility. The issue here is not how much time this takes. It's attitudinal for me. My attitude needs to be guest learner and then servant. Not exactly the attitude we see in Jonah, for example, when he shows up in Nineveh. Finally, it's not excited about being the guest to begin with, but when he does show up, he certainly isn't thinking guest learner or servant. He just wants to dump his load and get out of town. And when God rebukes him, what is God's rebuke under that unpredictable plant? The rebuke of God is there's a lot of people in this city, Jonah, and a lot of cattle should not be concerned about such a great city. That's the heart that God had towards even this pagan city that was rebellious against him. And Jonah didn't have it. So don't be a John as we walk into these communities. Be a guest, a learner, a servant. Celebrate what we can. On the opposite end, as I become the servant, say I'm serving the church. Probably I will finally, after I've in an attitude of humility again, and an attitude of doing this of my to myself. I also recognize Genesis three in the culture, and there will be some things in this culture which are worthy of condemnation. So I don't forget. Now, let me say it now.
This is not only if I'm crossing cultures into another culture, this is preaching into my own culture. So if I'm preaching in my own culture week after week, let me see the culture. Look for Genesis one and look for Genesis three. And if I'm preaching to the same audience week after week and I share some cultural connections with my audience, and we recognize that in our culture there are things which are not under the authority of Christ and are contrary to the Gospel and are Genesis three things. They need to be condemned in our society, any culture. There are things obviously, that are in the middle. Some things may not worthy, may not. I may not be sure if it's worthy of condemnation, but at a minimum they need to be challenged. This is a cultural value, not a Christian value. Maybe we discern that after a period of time what happens whenever Christianity. Enters any culture, part of the nature of the game is culture, and the faith get mixed up together and they all get rolled into a ball and it becomes very difficult to separate out the one from another. So we have to pay attention to that. And when we start to identify something, wait a second, we've been doing this in our church forever, but this is not really Christian thinking. This is a cultural thinking that we brought into the church. We should challenge that, I think. I'm not clear about whether it's condemnation, but we should challenge it. Some things, some things, what the challenge is, what our what our best move is. Maybe I can't really discern whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, whether it's worthy of celebration or worthy of condemnation. I'm not sure.
But what I can do with this thing, this seemingly is sort of innocuous. Maybe it's a little bit toward the neutral. What I need to do, at least as connect, I use it as a connection. Here's a point to connect. For the sake of the kingdom. Let me give you some examples again about Paul here. Paul in First Corinthians nine says To those under the law, I became like one under the law, those apart from the law, I became like one apart from the law. What's he talking about here? I become all things to all people that by all possible means I might save some connection. This is connection a little bit later in First Corinthians ten. Paul talks to the Corinthians about a common practice in Corinth that if you belong to a certain trade, you go to the idolatrous feast of that Trades Guild and the thought that many of the Christians had. Well, wait a second. I live in this world. If I'm going to prosper in my trade, I have to be part of this guild. I have to go to these idolatrous feasts. I have to participate now. Paul says, Wait a second, What fellowship is there between Christ and demons? Can you have a participation as an idle table and participate at the Lord's table at the same time? So First Corinthians ten, what is Paul doing is condemning a cultural practice and saying, Boy, you're a Christian and your call to engage in the world. This is out of bounds. You can't do this. So Paul clearly condemns a cultural practice that many of the Corinthian Christians were engaging in. I think he does the same thing in the sexual immorality incident. First Corinthians fine. Immorality was certainly part and parcel of the culture of Corinth.
But the Corinthians shouldn't be boasting about how tolerant they are of sexual immorality by just saying We're so forgiving and gracious here that we've accepted this man in our midst. Paul says, Oh, now figure it out. Paul says Elsewhere, You take the Corinthian picture together and Paul says, I'm not telling you to not, not have fellowship or not have a relationship with people who are immoral only if they're in the church, if they're in the church and they're immoral, you should have nothing to do with them. That's pretty strong language. That's what Paul says. You're not talking about the unbeliever you said otherwise you'd have to get out of the world. What do you expect from an unbeliever? But if believers are doing this, this is a practice that at least needs to be challenged, if not condemn. But go back to first Corinthians chapter nine, verse 24 through 27. Paul says, Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the pass run in such a way as to get the prize. They do it to get a wreath that will perish. We do it to get a crown that will last forever. I don't run like a man running aimlessly or fight like a man being there. I beat my body, make it my slave lust. After I preach to others, I myself should be cast away. What's he doing? There is connection. How do we know? Because the Corinthians. We're very familiar not only with the Olympic Games, but with the Isthmian games, which are near them. Paul takes imagery from the games and he connects. He connects. He uses that as an image for his teaching. There's going to be a later Christian emperor.
Christian emperor who condemns and eliminates the Olympic Games as too pagan. He calls it worthy of condemnation. Paul uses it as an opportunity for connection here. So it's possible that when we look at this kind of continuum of thinking, you and I might disagree about what we're looking at, what point we're out of the continue, but at least we have to be thinking about this.