Most of the needed explanation for today’s posting is in today’s posting. But basically, I was asked by Christian News Northwest to write this article. I thought I’d share it here as well since it has some broader ministry application. Enjoy!
Why I Don’t Have Time to Read This Christian Newspaper
By Corby Stephens, Pastor, The Exchange Church
I was recently contacted by CNNW to update our church’s subscription information. It seemed a good opportunity to opt out of our subscription, seeing as no one ever seemed to take a copy. I explained this in an email to CNNW and they replied, seeking some feedback. Their desire is to make a quality publication that will be useful to the local Christian community. I have no problem with that, and if that is God’s call on their ministry then keep on keeping on. While I couldn’t speak as to why our people didn’t take any papers, I did tell them that I just don’t have time to read it.
CNNW asked, “Isn’t it helpful for you, as a pastor, to know what is going on in the larger Christian community?” I said, “No, not really.” I find that I already spend too much time on “in-house” Christian stuff. In addition to my regular “work load of love,” I’m dealing with issues within the network of churches of which I am a part. I’m keeping up on theological issues that affect our fellowship. Oh yeah, I’m a husband and father as well.
As a pastor, one of my priorities is raising up the people in our fellowship to be fruitful and multiply. In part, that means putting things in front of them that will foster the best growth in their already limited time. Another priority is to try and connect myself and our fellowship with the community of the lost, not the community of the saved. Reading about another church’s youth-group mission to Paraguay doesn’t help me or our fellowship reach out to skaters and single moms in Forest Grove. There absolutely is a need to encourage and equip believers. Publications like CNNW are used by the Lord to do so. But it just isn’t helpful for me.
I’ve found that we Christians live in a sort of “bubble” subculture. Only Christians care about being in it, and leaving it tends to result in backsliding believers. We have our own Christian clothes, bookstores, entertainment, newspapers, etc. There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of these things, but we’ve created a bubble that separates ourselves from the lost world. Christian culture almost never produces new sheep. Healthy Christians do. How are we supposed to make disciples of all nations if we isolate ourselves in the bubble?
When our Christian experience becomes isolated in this manner, we become less concerned with connecting with the culture. We become more concerned with winning the call-in contest on The Fish and finding out when Toby Mac is coming to town (word to the Father, Toby). I think we spend too much time and money going to Christian concerts and festivals when we could be using our love for music and fellowship to invade the world with the love of God. That’s what Jesus did. Not to conform, but to confront.
Lest anyone think that I’m picking on CNNW, understand that I subscribe to maybe three ministry-related publications. I believe that most of them have the wrong orientation. They tend to focus on helping the church become a draw, in effect saying, “Hey world, come here and check us out!” when Jesus said, “Go into the world.”
CNNW is a fine paper. I’m sure it’s helping all kinds of pastors and churches all over the region. I would encourage them to keep up what God has called them to do, and I would encourage you, the reader, to keep reading it if God is using it in your walk with Him.
We would all do well to remember Paul’s advice in Ephesians 5:15-16, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (NKJV) Jesus told us that the fields are ready for harvest but the workers are few. What are you and I doing with our time and resources? That’s where my heart is.
By the way, this article was CNNW’s idea. Go figure?