God has a plan… We’re it!

2009 SEPA Synod Assembly

Proclaim Christ in people’s language and on their turf

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The challenge that Paul responded to in Athens Is the same challenge we have been
called to respond to today. And that challenge is this: Jesus never told the world to find
their way into a church, but he did the tell his followers to “Go into all the world and
proclaim the good news to the whole creation.”

The lesson of Paul’s conversations with the people of Athens for 21st Century Philadelphia Lutherans is to engage the culture rather than to avoid or reject it, Pastor Matt Staniz of Temple, Havertown, said in his sermon at Saturday morning worship.

Click here to view a video of the sermon.

Like Athens, our city (and its suburbs) is full of God-substitutes, and Paul pointed out God’s presence amid all the imitations, proclaiming Christ to the natives on their turf and in their language, he said.

Faced with this challenge, contemporary Christians often succumb to one of two temptations, Staniz said:  to believe that the conversation is above them — that they are not qualified and not skillful enough to proclaim Christ in the culture — or that the conversation is below them — to look down on the seeking for faith and living out belief that occurs outside the church.

“Jesus is calling us to “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.” There is a marketplace waiting for our conversations—an Areopagus. Maybe it’s on Facebook. Maybe it’s at the local barber shop, diner, or Starbucks. Maybe it’s on the front porch or stoop on a summer evening in 2009. Look around—there is an Areopagus waiting. There is a conversation waiting. The conversation is not above us. The conversation is not beneath us. The conversation is where we are called to live — because the conversation is the good news of the gospel.”

The sermon was punctuated by a video sharing some of the responses — from pastors and lay people and unchurched people across the nation — to his posting requesting people to submit their “25 things about Jesus” on Facebook.

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