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Volume 6 September 2019 Number 1
Newsletter, "Aspire...I press forward"
Cultural change has swept across Pasco County in the last ten years. Today, Master Planned Unit Development Districts (MPUD) Suburban and New Urban Lifestyles have given Pasco anything but a uniform cultural context. Pasco’s rural rolling pasture lands have become a multitude of arranged oasis communities, an inevitable part of people coming to live in these new MPUD’s.
Cultural diversity indexes since the census of 2010 indicate an overall rise in the Diversity Index in Pasco County with pockets that have risen 40% to 50%. Behind this growth in diversity is an increasing number of cultures and subcultures making Pasco County a less homogeneous culture. These changes are more than just ethnic, language and cultural diversity; they are a shifting of beliefs and values systems that influence every facet of society. Just spend a day at the local shopping center or grocery store, and you will see the diversity beneath the surface bubbling up.
One of the most significant indicators to Pasco’s increasing cultural diversity is the new business markets that have emerged. A desirable outcome of economic growth is that it provides opportunities for companies to respond with new jobs and profits. Success is determined by their ability and agility to connect with new or changing clients. Those that fail to adapt are left to draw from the shrinking buyer pools. Check out your local Grocery store and see how they have responded to the diversity of a community by steadily adding more and more specialty sections. There is a "natural food section" for the health conscious, complete with organically grown produce that is not only marketed for its health benefits but also the minimal impact on the environment. There is the "ethnic food" section catering to ethnic people groups emerging in the Pasco market. Today, these sections are much larger, and many of the products offered have labels completely in another language. Even the shopping experience has undergone cultural adjustments. Consider the “Grab – Scan -& Go” process, an effort to appeal to the hurried lifestyle of the New Urbanism of Pasco. These finely tuned product selections, marketing plans, and checkout processes are responding to the values and culture of changing communities; all of them are evidence of change.
Just as these new and changing facets of cultures and subcultures provide new business opportunities, they create new disciple-making opportunities. The challenge to businesses is how to provide products and services to an increasing number of different clients. The challenge to the disciple-making church is how does the church contextualize the gospel without falling into consumerism. For both these can become more of a burden than an opportunity. Even the Pasco government services like Schools, hospitals, and social services struggle to respond to these rapidly changing cultural landscapes. Pasco's Public schools' systems provide a picture into this evidence of change. Pasco’s Schools are now rated on their diversity and find themselves scrambling to educate the rapid influx of students whose native language is not English. The English as a Second Language (ESL) programs and Overseas Learners programs are essential components in almost every school now. Teachers often have students in their classrooms that are so new to the area they speak little or no English. Even as educators struggle with the simple task of communication, their task is increasingly more complex as they serve the demands of a progressively more pluralistic society. The church will need to learn to adapt to the evidence of change and bring the Gospel’s full message to bear on the circumstances as they appear on the cultural landscape.
What is the church’s response to this evidentiary change?
For the church, this diversity means learning to encounter multiple opportunities and challenges to the communication of the gospel message. “Community Connectivity” has s direct relationship with “Gospel Receptivity.”
When the church loses its “Community Connectivity,” its connection to the changing communities, it is lulled into the idea that the majority of people share a common set of values and beliefs. The church can literally become blind to the diversity at their front door. The church begins to see the world around them from a uniform perspective, triggering the church to wash over anyone who might have a differing cultural viewpoint; mainly when the culture takes a position that as something other than Christia. The physical evidence of the increasing cultural diversity and plurality of worldviews in Pasco is undeniable. These progressive cultural and worldview changes are much more than new technology and consumerism. It is more than new languages and new ethnic groups. There are genuinely significant changes in beliefs and values that determine how those around our churches respond to the gospel message. If the churches of Pasco plan to reach people beyond those with a generalized Christian worldview they will need to embrace these evidence of change.
Granted there was a day when Pasco’s culture was more uniform; however, it has long since passed. Just take a walk at the local outlet mall on any given weekend, and that only represents a fraction of the diversity that now exists. Migration created by Pasco’s “Live – Work – Play,” Planned Urban Development has resulted in a shifting of beliefs and values that have influenced every facet of society.
The church has a few options here. They can choose to fight the cultural shift, or they can understand and learn from what the early church experienced as it went from predominately Jewish culture to a predominately Greek Culture, or eventual from an eastern culture to a western culture later in the 2nd and 3rd century of church history.
The communication of the gospel is one of the many areas that have been significantly impacted by the changes in society. If a church seeks to “make disciples” of those around them, they, too, are faced with many of these same opportunities and challenges. Some churches have and will continue to successfully engage segments of the new and changing cultures in their midst. To the attentive, the changes will provide a wide range of opportunities. Others may become overwhelmed with the complexity that exists in the multitude of cultures and subcultures present in their community and limits their ministry to those who are like them.
The implications are far more serious for churches than for businesses and schools. For the church “Eternity is at stake,” not just reduced profits or loss of market share or school grades. If a company fails to identify a new or changed segment of the population, it may simply miss an opportunity to increase its profits. For the church, failure to recognize and reach a new or changed segment of the lost in their community is disobedience to the command to make disciples of all people groups.
The change for the church will be in how it sees the role of being a disciple. The evidence of change for the church will be when its people can do more that hesitantly affirm being a true Christians to identify themselves as true disciples of Jesus. The difference for the church will be its approach to both trademarks of being Christian and being a disciple. The church of America today has classified in people’s minds that being a Christian is about what Christ has done for us, a classic individualistic approach to salvation. We are saved from sin to be in heaven with Jesus. Whereas, when salvation means being a disciple, it becomes about what we, the church are collectively doing for Christ. Christian is a noun; disciple is a noun and a verb. To be a Christian is passive; to be a disciple is active. To be a Christian means “I get in on the benefits plan”; to be a disciple means “I have to pay the price."
Jesus’ own words make it very clear.
Matthew 16:24-27 (NASB) Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.”
The “Great Commission” calls us to “Make-Disciples,” to teach them to follow Jesus and to teach others to Follow Jesus. Are we calling our people to pay the price, sending them out to become disciple-makers or are we just trying to fill the pews?
Join us at our “Discover Pasco Roundtable” as we discuss what this looks like in Pasco County.
Dr. Allen Pelham
Church Planting Strategist
Pasco Baptist Association
Coming this Fall 2019
& Winter 2020
Aug. 19 - Sept. 30, 2019 (No Class Labor Day)
Introduction to New Testament Study BIUS1150
Oct, 7 - Nov. 18, 2019
Hermeneutics BIUS 1160
Feb. 24 - Mar 30, 2020
Baptist Doctrine/Theology THUS1110
April 13 - May 18, 2020
Missions - PMUS 1117
Evangelism- PMUS 1110
All Classes are Monday Night 6:30pm to 8:30pm
Is your Church Ready for the expansion?
The PBA will be looking for Medical Doctors, Nurses, and Dentist to equip for an overseas medical clinic coming in April 2019.
For more information: CLICK HERE
What is your strategic thinking for discipleship?
Ask yourself, ask your leadership “Who are you discipling?” Can you as a pastor or as church leadership quickly name the 2-5 people you are investing in individually in a discipleship relationship? This is no about taking them through a pre-defined timed program but a consistent, life-on-life discipleship. Growing both as a disciple and disciple-maker is the key to a disciple-making strategic planning process. It is not the new program or another endeavor that will prepare vision clarity. Vision clarity comes in having eyes to see and ears to hear.
Most church leaders would agree that discipleship should be a priority for the church. So what or how is the best way to sustenance the team tasked with designing and executing a system for making and developing disciples and disciple-makers?
Here are a few things that a church can do to help those discipleship leaders keep a church-wide focus on making disciples.
Have clear expectations.
Where does discipleship begin?
How do you measure the making of disciples?
How do you define discipleship for your context?
What does a person becoming more like Christ look like?
What is the structure for helping them get there?
Keep open communication.
How do you help build ownership throughout the staff regarding disciple-making?
How do you maintain unity with leadership team members regarding disciple-making?
Resource with the right tools.
What demonstrates the church’s dedication to making disciples who make disciples?
How does the Churches budget reflect this priority?
With clear expectations, communication, and the right tools; your discipleship team will be set up for success.
The Pasco Baptist Association’s hope and prayer are that we can help plan well for the process by bringing assistance in navigating the vision clarity and strategic planning process for disciple-making in Pasco County.
Dr. Allen Pelham
Pasco Baptist Asscoiation