“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.”
Hosea 4:6 NKJV
This verse makes me shudder. As a minister and leader, I would be horrified to hear God say he would reject me from being his servant. The thing that’s most telling though is his reason why; because the priests in Hosea’s day had rejected knowledge. I believe the rejection of knowledge today, by leaders, is causing us to lose true effectiveness in reaching our target market. So for a few weeks, I’d like to encourage you to keep learning.
Learning about the evolution of culture is one of the key areas where we falter. For some reason as adults, we reach a point where we no longer desire to keep up with changes in culture. Some of us actually get stuck in a particular decade. We loved the 70’s or 80’s so we dress like that time period and we wish everything could go back the way they use to be. We end up viewing our leadership through the lenses of our preferred culture rather than the prevailing culture.
Why is that significant? Because we limit our effectiveness when we limit our understanding of cultural relevance. For example, the smartphone market was dominated by Blackberry, who made phones that catered to businesses. Apple didn’t have a phone at all. But when they produced the iPhone, that catered to the prevailing culture, Apple grew to dominate the market and is now one of the top 5 brands in the world. Just last year Apple was offering to buy parts of Blackberry in anticipation of their demise. As culture shifts, we must shift in our leadership and methods. Otherwise our businesses and churches will end up like Blackberry.
We can’t lead millennials (born between 1982 and 2000) the way we lead baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964). This is important because the millennials are now the single largest generation in America. Their culture is totally different from older groups and extremely diverse. Their attitudes about lifestyles, finances, personal fulfillment, entertainment, brand loyalty, leadership, and spirituality are more opened than previous generations. Which means, our methods for reaching them will need to change.
So what should we do? We should learn about the culture. Instead of putting it down, rejecting it, or dismissing it, we should try our best to understand it from their point of view. Learn why certain issues are important to them. Learn what elements of your existing culture are foreign to them (and not be offended). Listen to and value their opinions without judging them. Be willing to make reasonable changes to become culturally relevant. Allow them to participate in a meaningful way. Let them help you reach their peers. Be willing to explain your own culture only after you’ve listened, and only if your current culture will help them.
I leave you with the words of the Apostle Paul.
“For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.”
I Corinthians 9:19-23 NKJV