Being a pastor can be hard. Not only are we trying to keep up with the lives of our local church members, but we also want to faithfully share God’s Word and reach our communities. With all that those pursuits entail, how can we possibly have time to address the difficult cultural topics of our day? Who cares what the Kardashians are doing or what’s trending on Netflix? We have more important things to address, right?
The truth is, if we want to be effective pastors, we need to know where our sheep are. Most of our people are in the midst of an all-out barrage of messaging from our culture that seeks to sell them on lesser gods. All day our people are hearing messages about sex, prestige, personhood and acceptance. What will they hear from us?
The truth is, if we fail to adequately represent God’s Word in our cultural conversations, our people will assume one of several things. Either they will assume the Bible has nothing to say on these topics, God doesn’t care what we do in these areas, or we shouldn’t talk about these topics in the church.
The problem with that approach is that the Bible has a lot to say about sex, prestige, personhood, acceptance and a host of other cultural topics that hit our news feeds. The Bible is not silent on difficult cultural topics. We shouldn’t be either. So how can pastors address difficult cultural topics with care and confidence?
Oddly enough, the easiest, yet most difficult step in addressing difficult cultural topics is just doing it. None of us want to be “that guy.” We don’t want the emails from every side of the argument invading our inbox. It’s easier just to avoid the conversations altogether.
But if we are going to help shepherd our people through the dark valleys of this world, we first must be willing to go through them ourselves. Be willing to take up difficult topics. Be willing to preach through texts that address difficult cultural issues, not around them. Let your church know that these conversations are on the table—even if they are uncomfortable.
Ground the discussion in God’s Word
The good news is that we don’t have to formulate the greatest opinions or ideas about how to navigate today’s constantly evolving cultural topics. Today’s hottest trends and issues are just retreads of the same old broken world trying to fix itself apart from God. There is nothing new under the sun.
If you’re going to present a side, present it clearly and plainly from the Bible. Don’t just find a proof-text, rather ground your message in the entire Gospel narrative and show how the Bible speaks to a particular issue. If people are going to argue, make them argue with the Bible, not you.
Make the ground level at the foot of the cross
While we are certainly called to speak the truth, we are also called to do it in love. We are not going to represent God accurately if we come from a posture of accusation or offensiveness. Remember, you’re a sinner too. Apart from the grace of God, you too would be blinded from the truth and celebrating your idolatry.
As we address difficult topics, we must remember and readily admit that we are all broken sinners. Just because we may be addressing an area of sin doesn’t mean that we also aren’t culpable in an equally egregious area of sin. We aren’t telling people to rise to our level; we are admitting that we are all broken and in need of a Savior.
The ground is very level at the foot of the cross. We are trying to trust and follow Jesus together. We invite others to follow with us.
Do the hard work of pastoring in the day, time and culture in which God has placed you. You don’t have to be on TikTok or know the latest lingo to be culturally relevant. Just preach the Bible, and when it speaks to a difficult cultural issue, be faithful in speaking about it as well.
May God bless and lead you as you do.