Efrem Smith, president and CEO of World Impact, answers the question, “How can churches remain agile in the midst of an ever-changing culture?”
Many of the pastors that I talk to are struggling with trying to navigate, preach and shepherd through very divisive social issues. Over the last two years, we’ve had a number of issues—racial in nature, class in nature, divides between police departments and predominantly underresourced, urban African-American communities. Pastors are really trying to navigate the complexity of these social issues, and some just avoid preaching or even talking about them altogether except to say, “Let’s pray.”
These kinds of divides—across ethnicities, across class—exist in Scripture, as well. Jesus and Paul, prophets in the Old Testament and apostolic leaders in the New Testament all had to deal with these same issues. So we should not avoid them, but through deeply rooted biblical preaching and teaching, we must shepherd people through these divisive times, so that we can equip them to be reconcilers and disciple-makers.
If you’re a church planter, being focused on racial reconciliation, being focused on equipping people to make disciples in a diverse, yet divisive mission field is even more important. We’re in an ever-increasing multicultural, multiethnic and metropolitan mission field in the United States. Diversity is growing and cities are growing. The mission field is very much about urbanization. Equipping people to make disciples in a diverse yet divisive reality is of the utmost importance.