When Things Change….
In Acts 17, we see a change in Paul’s approach to sharing the gospel. More and more Gentiles are accepting the message of hope found in Jesus, a message that is meant for every person in the world, no matter their cultural, ethnic, national background. When Paul ran into trouble in Thessalonica and then Berea, the believers shipped him off to Athens to wait for things to cool down. Paul is compelled to continue preaching the truth of Jesus to all. There are some interesting things that change in Paul’s approach in ministry while in Athens, a city where “it was easier to find a god than a man” – Peterronius, ancient historian.
1. Paul goes to the Gentile people. Paul changes his approach from synagogue preaching on Saturdays to reasoning with Greek philosophers in the marketplace. Just like Socrates, Paul goes into the crowded marketplace to converse with whomever he met. Paul quickly developed a style like Socrates, for it was needed to reach people in Athens (the city of Socrates).
2. Paul changes his preaching style from based on Jewish scriptures to based on God as the Lord of all creation. The Lord is a God who cannot be contained or represented by gold, silver, or stone figures. He does not even use the word “Jesus” in the talk at the Areopagus, when he speaks of the resurrection and the need for all to repent.
3. Paul speaks a style and language that the people of Athens understand, even quoting their own Stoic authors. He studies the Stoic culture, looking for inroads he can use for the Gospel, and quotes from their own philosophers and uses the unknown god statue as a way to introduce the Lord to them.
This is an amazing example in scripture of how Paul decided to preach to the large Gentile crowd, which was different than the approach he used to a large Jewish crowd. This was a permanent change in the ministry of Paul and even in the next chapter, Acts 18 in Corinth, Paul decides to go first to the Gentile from then on.
If Paul, as the greatest evangelist in the history of the world, can change his approach in ministry to meet new people groups, can we?
Our Future Forward Committee is working on this exact thing, effectively reaching young people for the gospel of Jesus. The committee is made up of leaders from boards and committees in the church to address how our church will be a growing, multi-generational church that stays connected to the next generation. The committee consists of: *Pastor John Pattison *Winston Moors (Moderator, AWANA) *Brennon Randa (Deacons, AWANA) *Tal Boese (Trustees, Preschool, Technology) *Howard Stenzel (TABS) *Kristin McConnell (Music, Preschool, Wednesday Meals) *Jody Schooler (ABW, AWANA) *Patricia Eilert (BOCE, AWANA, SS teacher) *Kara Muhs (Young Adult Leader)
There will be more information in the coming weeks and months as this committee progresses into what is it going to take for our church to have a positive impact for future generations. Please be in prayer for them and the church on this journey.