In a recent article for, Ed Stetzer points out that it’s not enough simply to try to reproduce a previous church model from another setting. We have to study our own communities in order to minister most effectively.

“In Acts, Paul arrives at his appointed destination and begins to engage the communities there. Rather than approach each community with a plan that worked in the city before, he adapts. Paul’s strategies vary depending on the community.

“When preaching to the Jews in Antioch, he uses Old Testament Scripture. That would have made sense to them. In Lystra, he speaks of creation and points to Christ. In Athens, his starting point is very different; his speech before the Areopagus incorporates poetry and philosophy in his argument. Paul’s example reminds us that the way we do outreach differs from location to location. Outreach often has a different starting point, but evangelism comes to the same conclusion—proclaiming a bloody cross and an empty tomb.

“Furthermore, churches themselves look different from context to context. There are marks of a biblical church that should and must be present in every culture, but biblically faithful cultures look different from culture to culture. A biblically faithful church in Singapore, Senegal and Seattle share the same gospel, worship the same God and teach the same scriptures; but it should (even must) look different.

“When it comes to the Kingdom of God, uniformity is not a value. Simply cloning other successful models is unlikely to work. Dig into your community, get to know the religious climate, what the [people] think about the church and what they’re objections are. Then respond accordingly; not by changing your message, but clearly articulating and demonstrating the relevance of the truth. You must continue to do this the rest of your ministry. If we stop being students of our surrounding culture, then our own church will become an isolated, ineffective culture unto itself.” (Click here to read the full article.)

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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