When presenting my ministry I usually share a message from the Great Commission in Matthew 28 entitled; Ministering to a non-Christian culture (referring to Melbourne Australia). The two words “non-Christian” shock people but I am quick to point out this doesn’t mean Australians are violently opposed to Christ, in fact most of the time they will listen to the Gospel if it’s shared by a friend. A fellow Missionary in Melbourne explained their being non-Christian this way, “that doesn’t mean Australians are Godless instead they have many God’s; the God of sports, money, and pleasures.”
Being in a non-Christian culture means there are many roads to God (religions) and things that people view as their God (idols) so Christianity and the Biblical worldview is now in the minority. The scary thing is using that definition America can now be referred to as a non-Christian.
Please don’t think I am just putting this post up because Barack Obama was re-elected last night, I have great respect for President Obama (although I don’t agree with his positions). Instead in my opinion it’s just another illustration of a deeper change that has taken place as our Nation has lost it’s morality.
Over the last six years the Lord has taught me many lessons about ministering in the non-Christian Nation of Australia and as we see the United States headed in that direction I want to share some of those lessons. May God help us accept the fact that our Country has changed and learn how to share the Gospel in a way that reaches this new culture.
1. Become a Gospel Ninja: I wrote about this in early 2012 but the idea behind the Gospel Ninja is looking for opportunities to work Biblical Truths into everyday conversation. This many times won’t be the entire Gospel but one part of it (we are created by God) or a question that makes them think about the Lord (what are your religious beliefs)?
2. Be open about who y0u are: I have a decided advantage with this step because the second question people ask me is “why are you in Australia?” (How long have you been here? is number one). To be honest I enjoy seeing the expressions on people’s faces when they learn I am a Baptist Minister since a lot of them had never met a minister before. Eventually my role will open the door to answer their questions about God and the Bible since they don’t have anyone else to answer them. If we are open and unashamed about our beliefs when the unsaved have hard questions they will come to us for answers.
3. Let Them Get To Know You: There are a lot of misconceptions about the teachings of Scripture or what Christians believe since the unsaved get their ideas about us from popular movies or television programs. A huge part of reaching a non-Christian culture is simply developing friendships with people and allowing them to see we are not crazy religious nut’s, these relationships also give opportunities to explain clearly exactly what the Bible teaches.
4. Minister to Their Needs: This is secondary to relationships and sharing the Gospel but if you can find a way to minister to the physical or emotional needs of those in your community it will open HUGE doors to reach them for Christ. My witnessing opportunities in Australia rarely take place within the Church but during English as a Second Language Teaching, Computer Tutoring, Homework Help, or Dialysis Visitation ministries. There are dozens of opportunities to volunteer in our communities and each one can be used to reach people in need of Christ.
Then last but not the least the number one thing to keep in mind when ministering to a non-Christian culture is……
5. They Won’t Come to You: I have the honor of being Associate Pastor of a Church in Melbourne where next July we will celebrate our sixth anniversary. The attendance runs between twenty-five and thirty people every Sunday and if everyone comes we will have between fifty and sixty, this is normal in Australia where a Church of one-hundred people is considered to be very large.
These small Churches (which I love by the way) aren’t the result of animosity towards God but the Aussie people simply aren’t going to come on their own to visit a Church. It’s our responsibility to go connect with the unsaved and eventually bring them to the services. This is different from many outreach philosophies in the US that encourages the unsaved to come visit (putting the responsibility on them). In some places this philosophy still works, but soon we will have to admit that it is broken and place the responsibility on ourselves…which by the way is where it should have been all along.