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Philip Jensen on Why and How Churches Must be Pragmatic

Image Credit: Thibault Trillet

Philip Jensen on Why and How Churches Must be Pragmatic

“We need to adapt our pattern of ministry to the needs of people’s salvation.”

Since the release of the latest Australian Census data, I've been troubled by how many people in my nation are yet to know Jesus, and how ineffective we (as evangelical Christians) have been at reaching them.

I discovered that since 1991, there has been a 22% drop in the number of people claiming to be Christians and in a single generation there has been an 88% decline in the number of self-declared Christians.

So my friend Dave sent me this sermon by Philip Jensen from 1988, where he pulls no punches in pleading that churches change to reach the 97% who are not in our churches each Sunday.

You should listen to the whole message, but here are 10 quotes that stood out:

“Pragmatism without theology is awful. Theology without pragmatism is a tyranny of traditionalism.”

“We must preach expecting people to be converted. Where does it say that this is the age of small things? This is the age of great victory through the preaching of the Word of God!”

“A church can be full, yet we can have reached hardly anyone. The church building can set our vision very small.”

“We need to get out of our ghettos, our holy huddles of theological minutia where the purity of our doctrine and practice is such that a Pharisee would be ashamed.”

“When 90% or 95% of the nation does not know Jesus Christ you’ve got to recognise a camel and a gnat or you’ll be no better than the Pharisees.”

“We spend our time competing with each other, not paying attention to the 97% who are not there.”

“You cannot please everybody when you’re leaving the good for the best.”

“It is harder to be a member of most of our churches than it is to be a member of kingdom of heaven.”

“We need to adapt our pattern of ministry to the needs of people’s salvation.”

“So universal is the truth of the gospel that it can come packaged in a wide variety of different cultural expressions…If the message only comes in one package then that package is part of the message. That is why you must keep changing for changes sake. For whatever is left solid becomes part of the gospel, and becomes the gospel-plus. And therefore we must be willing to suffer for the salvation of others.”

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