Do You Hear It?

The noise is getting louder each day!

The boisterous opponents of the Church are becoming increasingly vocal:
‘All the Church wants is money!’
‘Fanatics like them cause wars!’
‘Bunch of hypocrites!’
‘They don’t know how to have fun!
‘The Church has no place in politics/schools/the media’

Every day the opportunity for Aussies to hear about belonging to a community of God becomes more remote. Every day Mr/Ms Average Australia sees less need to go to Church. And more often than not, the wider Church body has one response:


Do you hear it? In many Churches it’s deafening.

In stark contrast to society’s clanging vocal opposition to the Church, there comes the feather-light whisper calling us to experience life the way it was intended to be.

We were created to belong in a vibrant, life-changing community like the Acts Church which spear-headed the culture of its day and influenced future society.

They weren’t so much reacting to culture, but rather changing it and leading the way.

Sounds good, doesn’t it.

How can today’s Church lay hold of that vital role? How can the Church help the average Aussie change their mind about the role and relevance of the body of Christ? How will the vocal opponents be silenced?

Those of the gambling persuasion are betting the Church will soon flounder and a whole generation will be lost to the experience of Christian community.

However we know something they don’t… Christ himself promised the gates of hell shall not prevail.

How can today’s Church be culture-changers?

By charging into battle. The Church was not created for self-defence. She was created to go off to battle.

When it comes to the battle for cultural change, some still think in terms of structural renewal for the Church, that is, to go on the attack by changing structures or programs. However, structures or programs don’t necessarily change anything. In fact structures will inevitably crumble and fall if the few key people running them move on.

Some equate preparing the Church to be culture changers to changing the Church stylistically to be more contemporary. But it doesn’t mater what style of Church we try to present if we’re still only reaching the converted. It’s irrelevant. It’s not leading culture and community, merely reacting to culture. It’s the Church on the back foot… certainly not marching into battle and beating down the gates of hell for the souls of mankind!

To become cultural pioneers, the Church needs a complete paradigm shift… a re-emphasis on following Christ, not just a preoccupation with belief.

We don’t need more believers, we need followers of Christ. Passionate followers of Christ can win the battle for cultural change.

The world has always needed passionate followers of Christ. Look at the early New Testament Christians. They were consumed with a passion for the lost because Christ was. They were willing to die for that passion because Christ was. Now days Aussies call that sort of fanaticism evil, almost on par with terrorism.

To make matters worse, within the Church those who are passionate followers of Christ have been labeled as ‘over the top, or as some have said, ‘just not cut out to be leaders in the Church’. Some are put in the box of ‘Evangelist’ when they’re not they’re simply passionate followers of Christ who live out their worship each and every day and obey the teachings of their Saviour.

I’d like to share my story. I have been told by some Christian leaders that I am not a Pastor but rather an Evangelist (due to what they identify in me as an excessive amount of or extreme preoccupation with fulfilling the Great Commission). I remember not being considered for a pastorate in one Church because, according to the Senior Pastor, I was too evangelistic.

It has taken years of wasted time and effort for me to understand these people were just plain wrong. I am not a big E Evangelist in their sense of the word, that is, someone who simply reaps the harvest and performs no other pastoral functions whatsoever. In their eyes, the primary role of the Pastor is to tend the (converted) flock, leaving the harvesting of the heathen to the ‘Evangelist’.

These leaders are walking in a different paradigm to me. I am a believer and a follower of Christ… a Pastor who not only believes in the primacy of the Gospel as do all of my peers (hopefully). But as a result, I also believe in the priority of evangelism as being the foremost consuming purpose in my life. That does not make me an Evangelist. It just makes me a typical follower of Christ who has the purpose and priority of God right!

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not talking here about the ‘office’ of the Evangelist, moreso commenting on the role of the Pastor. Nor am I saying let’s give up what structural renewal programs we have going and forget about making our services generationally relevant. But I am talking about refocusing our time and energy towards what I know is your main concern… the reaching of this lost generation.

Stop and listen carefully… do you hear it? The sound of thousands upon thousands of every day Australians limping through this life and falling into an eternity without Christ.

Listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd, as he tells us to go and make disciples. Let them hear that Jesus came so they may have life to the full now.

So to you my fellow Pastors: I know you believe in the primacy of the Gospel, and the priority of evangelism. But do you want to be culture-changers? Do you want to turn this nation inside out so people look to the Church to lead the way?

To turn the present situation around start by asking yourself: does my diary reflect my so-called priorities of the primacy of the Gospel and the priority of evangelism?

It is time to get passionate! Passionate about the things that really matter! The things which can change not only your Church, but the whole of society.

Do you hear it?

~Dean Thomas

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