Jesus Values Safety

June 13, 2013

Andy GriffithAt New Life we value Safety, Fun, Honor, Next Steps, Risk, and the Bible. All are important. All are part of what makes New Life, New Life. In this series of blog posts we are going to explore a little about each one.

Let”s start with safety. While all of our values are important to us this one stands apart by being included in our purpose statement: New Life Christian Church exists to create safe places where people discover God.

Do you remember The Andy Griffith Show? It was not uncommon to see the whole gang at church. Andy frequently whistled or sang hymns while working or walking to the fishin” hole. Now think about baseball games back in the 50″s.Cleveland Baseball Crowd All these Cleveland fans are wearing suits to the game. Why? Because that”s what you wore when you were out. People “back in the day” just understood that attending church and following God was part of a normal life. You didn”t have to prove to people whether Jesus was a real person or not, whether He died and was raised from the dead, whether He truly is the answer to life, the universe and everything.

To say that times have changed is an understatement. The purpose of this blog is not to bemoan the fact that we live in a post-Christian culture. Rather it”s just to acknowledge that culture has changed around us. So in order for us to make the Gospel message accessible to people we (the church) need to change as well.

Let”s just start by acknowledging the culture around us is not receptive to the Gospel. People do not know or understand that we are all sinners in need of a savior. They do not know or believe that Christ was God and in fact died for them. They do not know or accept that the best life possible is one in submission to God”s will for their lives. This is a very “unsafe” message. So in order for people to hear this, we must first break down any cultural barriers that exist.

So instead of wearing suits to church (which people don”t wear unless they have to for work) and instead of singing hymns (which are done in a style of music that died in the 80″s… 1880″s) we try to bridge the gap between the “Christian subculture” and “mainstream culture”. This means that much of what we do at New Life is an attempt to connect with people in the community so that they”ll be receptive to the Gospel.

New Life StrategyYou may be familiar with the right side of this crude diagram. It”s basically the Gospel message that we are separated from God by our sin and that Christ bridges this gap so we can be reunited with God. Fifty years ago our culture understood this.

But the “culture gap” represented on the left side of the drawing is very real today. New Life exists to bridge this gap so that people can wrestle with God and the Gospel rather than our presentation of God and/or the Gospel.

Much of what we do is directed specifically to bridge this gap. The music we play, the video clips we show, the family fun entertainment we provide in the community, the nZone, the ice cream truck, casual clothes we wear to church all help bridge this gap. While we always strive to make this gap as narrow as possible we will never fully close it. There are things in our culture we simply cannot (will not) accept.

One thing I like to share with people who are considering coming from another church to New Life is that we probably share an understanding of the “sin gap”. But for them to truly be a part of New Life they need to get comfortable with how we try to bridge the “culture gap”. If they are not willing to put aside their “preferences” about what church should be in order to attempt to bridge that gap, they will most likely end up searching for another church. We set aside our preferences on a daily basis in an attempt to reach the lost and disconnected people in our community. It”s not about us. It”s about creating safe places where people discover God.

If you are excited about sharing the Gospel with your friends, we hope you will join us on this journey. We want to partner with you. We want to provide that safe place where you can bring them and know they will hear the Gospel, but in a way they can understand.

If you are still far from God and for some reason decided to stick through this very long blog post know that we care about you and everything we do is our attempt to draw you closer to God and to help you understand and wrestle with the right side of the drawing.

Related blogs

refuge
God is Your Refuge
friendship
Godly Friendships that Last
Gospels
The Differences Between the Gospel Accounts

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