As a young pastor, I’ve asked the Lord many times to give me the gift of connecting to this generation. I want to be able to share the gospel with people in way that they can clearly understand the love of Christ and the new life that comes with it. Unfortunately, I don’t always get it right, and I believe it is a main concern for ministers/churches all around the world. Language is changing; church styles, programs, and systems are evolving with the current generation; and with these occurrences churches seem to have gone too far away from who they really are.
There is a great inclination to suppress our spiritual DNA so that we can get people to church. I have heard that some pastors are seeker sensitive and that services are controlled in a manner that doesn’t give the Holy Spirit much freedom to move. We can all be guilty of this when we try to be cool and not offend anyone new. Then, I thought to myself, these people have a point. Some people can run away as fast as they can once the Holy Spirit shows up.
Last month, I went to a conference and one of the speakers said that pastors don’t do altar calls anymore. He said pastors are scared to do it because it might push away people or they may get “weirded out.” A bit blunt but it hit home. He then said that the altar is where people can lay down their lives for God, and if we don’t lay down our lives, we cannot be true disciples. Boom! It blasted me right there. I know it is not comfortable for people to get out of their seats, head to the front, and surrender their lives to the Lord for the first time or for recommitment. However, what else would we use to teach/help our people? This sealed the deal for me. If the Spirit leads me towards an altar call, I need to just go for it and not be caught up with how people might respond. Especially since we had a powerful time at the altar the Sunday before the conference .
The next Sunday, I had an altar call because I strongly felt the leading of the Holy Spirit to do so, and as my eyes were closed and interceding, I didn’t know that practically all the people were at the altar, with their hands lifted high in surrender. It was an upper room moment, when the Holy Spirit filled the disciples. Nobody wanted to go home. Most of them lingered even after the service and just remained basking in the moment of His sweet presence. Since that day, people have been bringing their friends and family to our Sunday services. It wasn’t the cool website that brought the people. The last time I checked, our website wasn’t updated, and our Facebook page wasn’t that consistent. These things are helpful. These things are tools but not the foundation. I realized that His real presence does not really need an explanation or validation. People that are lost understand that His love is real and that there is a way God reveals Himself to them that is not within our perception of what is offensive, weird, or politically correct. People are lost, and the answer is Him. Therefore people can relate no matter how inexplicable it is to our human minds. When we ask people to take a stand, accept Christ, and live for him, we must remember that taking a stand does not start from our feet, it starts from a heart that is laid down and aligned to the heart of God.
Sometimes we choose relevancy over orthodoxy. What is “relevant” changes over time, but what is “relatable” always remains and this is the language of God’s love. We go for the forms but diminish the power of the substance. I love how we paint our walls for the eyes of the unchurched and install cool lights and effect so that it speaks familiarity. However, I started to question the purity of my recent mindset as to winning this generation. I realized that if I am not careful, I can get people to church but not to Christ. We bring them in using those relevant ideas, but then when it’s time for something real—the powerful move of God—we have nothing to offer anymore. When the cool lights are gone, so is the crowd. When the comfort is gone, so are the people. However, when you are sincere and unashamed of the power of the gospel and the Holy Spirit’s move, the people might be gone, but the disciples remain.