Acceptance is not affirmation, but it is an embrace.
It involves starting where someone actually is, warts and all, and then loving them, caring for them and enveloping them into the community.
This is more key than you might think.
It is one thing to create a welcoming atmosphere; it is another to actually wrap your arm around someone who is sin-stained and sin-soaked in an effort to lead them to the cross.
This is ministry in the trenches.
It means talking about marriage to those who are living together; it means helping teenagers with their addiction; it means working with a Christian wife who has a non-Christian husband who wants them to enter the “swinger” lifestyle; it means going as pastors to a house that seems to be demonically influenced; it means …
Do you really need me to go on?
An atmosphere of acceptance is also a culture of involvement and investment.
2. Cultural Translation.
The second dynamic needed is cultural translation.
Let’s retire such words as “relevant” and “contemporary,” shall we?
The heart of it all is a missionary enterprise: Learn the language of the people, the music, the dress, the customs … and then translate the Gospel for them.
Chase this with me for a moment …
If we were dropped into the deepest reaches of the Amazon basin as missionaries of the Gospel to reach a specific tribe of people, we would attempt to learn the language, dress in a way that is appropriate, craft a worship experience that used indigenous instruments and styles, and work tirelessly to translate the Scriptures into their language.
OK … our mission field is the West.
Are you doing the work of a missionary?
The Lord is at work redeeming and sanctifying a people for Himself.