Times have changed. We are living in a new age of information and influence. To be effective in ministry in this present age, we must learn from the examples of those who were leading the church in an unchurched world. With this in mind, I’d like to share a few thoughts with you from Paul’s writing in Colossians 1:28 to help your ministry in this present age.
“Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” Colossians 1:28 NKJV
This sounds simple but it’s critical in our present age. There are more unchurched people in our world than ever before. There are also more non-believing people in our world than ever before. These are people who do not understand the biblical concepts Christians have spent years learning. Often times in church life we preach about spiritual disciplines, holiness, faith, and Christian living. But these concepts are foreign to the unchurched community. We must start at the very beginning of spiritual understanding with them and evangelistically preach Jesus as Christ.
Warn with Conviction
Paul, the writer of Colossians, says we preach Jesus “warning every man”. It is important to be able to communicate the reason why we need a savior in our present age. This generation is very “spiritual”. But their spirituality is also very general, meaning they gravitate to any and all spiritual concepts that have some benefit they can attain. It is important that we preach the gospel with conviction, revealing the spiritual truth of the human condition and warning people of the consequences of sin. After all, the severity of the penalty for our sins is what makes the gift of our salvation so good in comparison.
Teach in all Wisdom
Wisdom is the skill for living life. It’s what happens when we take knowledge from God and apply it to help us make decisions. This generation needs Godly wisdom to know how to navigate in an ever changing world. They need relevant teaching to help them in new digital, social, and political environments as well as a changing workplace dynamic. We must teach them how to be Christians online, and in diverse, non-traditional family circumstances. We must teach them how to apply spiritual wisdom in a popular culture that embraces and accepts immorality, racial injustice, and a growing acceptance of the recreational drug culture. We can’t simply talk about these things and condemn them without teaching believers how to survive in their context.
Lead to Completion
Finally, Paul says he has a goal to “present every man perfect (mature, complete) in Christ Jesus.” Leading people to completion requires more than preaching and teaching. It requires discipleship. When Jesus gave instructions to his disciples, he emphasized the importance of continued discipleship in the church.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” Matthew 28:19-20 NKJV
Jesus very specifically instructs his original disciples to teach new disciples to “observe all things that I have commanded you”. This observational teaching is more about doing and living the Christian life than about knowing biblical information. The idea is people who are mature in their faith, walking closely with God can teach others how to do the same. In a generation that is inundated with so many examples of sports figures, music artists, celebrities, and social media influencers, the Christian example through discipleship is more critical than ever before.