O carte care deschide ochii cititorului spre schimbările radicale produse în cultura americană (dar nu numai), pe care o recomand ca o lectură agreabilă dar și provocatoare.
Întrebarea mea este cum am descrie schimbările culturii noastre – de la Miorița și Baltagul la Florin Salam, Vali Vijelie și Adi Minune. Sau (dar fără a pune pe același loc cu cultura seculară) ar trebui să ne întrebăm care sunt schimbările culturii bisericești – de la Teoctist la Daniel sau de la Paul Dan la Cristi Barbosu … În plus, cum s-a schimbat predicarea, propovăduirea adevărului în ultima vreme, în lumina celorlalte schimbări?
It is clear that all around us there is a shifting from what we as a community considered to be safe, to something that the individual considers to be safe. The culture of the entire world is changing but the culture of the Church as a divine organization does not change; the world’s thinking changes but the Gospel does not change. The question that David Henderson raises is: how can we transpose the unchanged message of the Gospel from an unchanged Body of Christ (Church) to the shifted culture of our days, without altering the message and destroying the church but impacting the culture? So, stating the goal of the book, Henderson affirms he attempts “to help us discover where the world has moved, and how to meet it there.”(16) And in order to do that he digs into the current cultural trends and then offers good, biblical, practical advice on how to communicate God’s truth in our context.
Constructing his argument, Henderson insists that modern American Christians must change their approach to sharing the faith in order to fit modern America. The pattern of Henderson’s book is straightforward: he examines a particular aspect/mindset/value of modern Americans; he then gives ideas about how a Christian might share Words of Eternal Life with such an American. So, he covers the average person sitting in the audience; what has made them the type of listener they are; their different thinking patterns, etc. David Henderson knows how to help preachers “gain a hearing” with a crowd. Then, he uses a constant theme throughout the book, which he estimates; “God’s Word to a …” For instance, Chapter 4 deals with “God’s Word To A Discontented World”; Chapter 10 deals with “God’s Word To A World Alone.” This helps see how God’s Word can reach such a target and impact it. One key word that I discovered in the book is “confrontation” and he opposes this word to conformation. The Church and the Word need to confront the listeners. But this book is not just about “Communicating God’s Truth to Our Changing World,”. It also is about better understanding the world we live in today. The author examines various aspects of the modern (American) life to show “Who We Are,” (chapter 3-8), and “How We Think,” (chapters 9-14). While doing so, he shows not only how deeply the culture has gone into a sort of postmodern chaos, but also gives examples of how he has been able to reach out to non-Christians and see their lives’ changed for Christ. This giving of personal and others examples is mostly positive, intended to give hope, and including Henderson’s “Concepts Worth Remembering” and “Recommended Reading” lists that are at the end of every major section, we have a practical book that offers real solution to preachers/churches problems.
Primarily written for the shift in American culture, this book helped me realize how much Romanian culture has shifted and has been influenced by the cultural change in the West, in the past twenty years. All the things he talks about in 1998 have been imported by the Romanian culture as well. After the 1989 revolution we were hoping for a “fresh start” but the suspicious mind of the liberated from communism people led to individualism, then consumerism, then we become spectators instead of being involved, and the next step was “normal”, we pushed away God, renegotiated what was right and wrong and lost our perspective and purpose in life.
As for me, this book answered important questions related to today’s church life in Romania: Why people lost their interest in coming to church? Why sermons lost their impact? Why people cry for “relevance”? One of the toughest challenges of my ministry was to answer one question: “40 years ago preachers with no school had a great impact, now you have a lot of education, why your sermons don’t touch people? But now, this book really helped me understand today’s audience better, and provided for me techniques to help me reach them better without altering the Message.
As a conclusion, this book is very helpful for churches, pastors and any Christian who may want to know the current culture better as well as how to present the Gospel of Christ in the 21st Century.