March 28, 2012 by C.J. Mahaney
Categories: Conferences | Interviews
In anticipation of Next 2012 I’ve asked some of our guest speakers to share a bit about their perspective on the local church. Matt Chandler was the first one to get back to me, so today I’m posting the questions I sent him and his answers.
For those of you who don’t know him, Matt is part of a younger generation of pastors building gospel-centered and doctrinally-sound churches that have a heart for evangelism and church planting. As I age, guys like Matt bring me great joy. And I can say that in particular about Matt because I’ve had the opportunity to get to know him personally and to enjoy a memorable meal in his home with his family. I’ve also spent time with the other leaders of The Village Church and these are impressive men who each have a great sense of humor. We laughed a lot together. So although Matt has a world-class public gift, I am most impressed by the man I have gotten to know in private and the church God has used him to help build. That’s why I’m very excited that he’ll be speaking at Next and grateful he was willing to answer some questions here so you could get to know him.
When did the local church become important to you and why?
The local church has always played a significant role in my life although I did have a season in which I questioned whether or not church as I understood it could effectively engage with the lost and seeking and disciple them to maturity. The Spirit and the scriptures provided clarity during a tumultuous year in my early 20s and I have been grateful for God’s call on my life to serve and lead His bride ever since.
Share a Scripture passage that has impacted your understanding of the church.
Ephesians 3:8-13. I know that’s not just one scripture but that’s the text! That the church is “revealing the manifold wisdom of God” gives me a great deal of vitality in that it reminds me that even on the difficult days the Spirit is using our prayers, meetings and organization to reveal His wisdom. We get to reflect his glory and perfection in our community and that thought is compelling to me.
You're speaking at Next 2012 on "The Church and Culture." How do you define culture?
Edward Tylor called culture "that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man (or woman) as a member of society." I think that’s a robust and accurate definition.
The subtitle of your message is "Reaching out Without Selling Out." What are some ways churches might be tempted to sell out as they seek to affect their communities?
Historically what has happened is we’ve tried to give the God of the Bible a make-over like he’s out of date and no longer “cool” enough to draw people to himself, so we lower standards and try to make God more palatable to the prevailing culture.
What do you think are some of the more pressing issues in our culture today that the church should be addressing?
I think personhood issues like sexual identity, manhood and womanhood, etc., and the formation of deep, real community are the two most pressing.
Do you see distinctions between an individual Christian affecting culture and the local church affecting culture?
I think it naturally plays itself out that way. At The Village there are people who are engaging culture within the domain of society that they work or play in. It’s not a program of the church or a project that gets announced from the stage it’s those men and woman being faithful to God’s call on their lives. Meanwhile, the church as an organization has certain partners that we serve and walk with in the hope of engaging and impacting the culture around us with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.