I grew upon the fifties and sixties and the world I knew then doesn’t exist today. We’ve come a long way in the wrong direction. I am writing this not for nostalgia’s sake but to give a frame of reference for young men entering the ministry. The culture of America has changed. Patriotism has waned, immorality has become open and accepted, and people have become biblically illiterate. Churches have lowered their standards and Christians have lost a sense of holiness. Fewer young people are interested in the ministry.
What does this mean to a young church planter? It means, very often, that basic foundational truths about God are unknown. Explaining the gospel when I entered the ministry consisted of asking people to turn from their sin and receive Christ as their Savior. People usually understood what that meant. A generation of young people have been instructed to keep God out of the school and telling us to keep God out of the courthouse and out of public view is it any wonder that people know little about God and the Bible?
People do not know how to act in church. They come dressed for the beach with their water bottle in hand. Children haven’t learned to sit quietly and respectfully. Attendees seem to think they are at a ball game. The fear of God has disappeared. Pastors are left with the choice to either say nothing or say something with the fear people will be offended and not return. People do not understand they can’t teach a Sunday school while living together unmarried. Sadly, many preachers have given up and sought the easy way to deal with these common issues. They have allowed the inmates to run the prison. They have remained silent and given up trying to get people to understand the importance of standards and convictions. Youth are being indoctrinated concerning gender identity and these issues are real and must be dealt with biblically. These are real problems that must be faced and there are no easy answers.
You must know what the Bible teaches and know what you believe about the Bible. If you know the truth of the Word of God then the only issue is how to present it and implement it in your ministry. It begins with you and your family. You must exhibit convictions yourself and be consistent in your personal life. If you are inconsistent, you will not get others to hold to the church standards.
First, there must be a written dress code, job description, and code of conduct. There should be guidelines for every position in the church, including every volunteer position. If anyone wants to be a leader, they must know what is expected of them. They don’t have to take a position but if they do, they must follow the church guidelines. If secular companies can enforce dress codes and codes of conduct for their employees, surely the church can do the same. It is nearly impossible to enforce your personal convictions on the entire congregation and grace must be shown to visitors and new members. However the standards of your leaders will have an impact even on the casual attenders.
You need not preach every sermon on your personal convictions and you must not brow-beat people, however people need to know where you stand and preaching and teaching on the whole counsel of God is what Paul did. We should follow the same pattern. If you fail to help key people in a new church understand the importance of holy living then every new visitor will become just like them. It sets a precedent that will be difficult to change.
The sixties were not perfect and a spirit of public rebellion was birthed during that era. However, the general public still had a fear of God and a respect for the things of God. Today is not the sixties and those days are long past. In today’s society it is necessary to have some backbone supported by wisdom to navigate these days of change. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. — Ephesians 6:13