Episode 029: Doing Ministry in a Secular Age

When Jesus told his followers to make disciples in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and all the ends of the earth, he meant that the gospel should be brought to people where they are and in their contexts. So how do we as pastors and leaders bring the gospel to our neighbors in today’s secular age? We talk about it in this week’s essential conversation.

Episode 029 – SHOW NOTES – Doing Ministry in a Secular Age


One of my favorite metaphors is to think of the world as like an arena with a retractable roof, where the roof closes and no one really cares… everyone is so consumed with their own life that whether or not there is a God is kind of irrelevant…


The new situation makes you learn to say [the gospel] afresh… we’re having to learn how to tell the Story to people who are living in a new situation, but have the same hungers…


It’s almost like we’re in an Acts 17 moment… in the collapse of the marriage between Christianity and the culture, there’s a fresh opportunity to stand in the marketplace of ideas and tell people, “God raised Jesus from the dead—what do you think about that?”


Today’s climate is such that all belief is contested, and so in one sense we’ve gone to a pre-Christian culture, and in another sense we’ve “evolved” past it… people want the Jesus values without the Jesus claim…


We have to get better as pastors and leaders to say to people, “You’re going to serve somebody; you’re going to choose a cross somewhere…and only Jesus says ‘my yoke is easy and my burden is light…’”


The ministry of hospitality is one of the best gifts the church gives to the world… in a secular age, we need to be ones who open our doors and hearts and we host people and let the kingdom unfold so that people say, “This is where I need to be…”


Beauty is a great way of thinking about how the church can be at its best here… a Rembrandt painting doesn’t need to explain itself to you… it has a way of communicating itself to you and drawing you into it… the church needs to think about its own life that way… let people see!



  • How aware are you and your team about the rising tide of secularism in terms of your ministry process (planning, messaging, programming)? Does it figure at all in your ministry? Why or why not?
  • How would you describe your strategy for equipping your flock to live faithfully and hospitably within our secular age?
  • What can you do to help your congregation see the opportunities of living in this moment?



James. K. A. Smith has written a dense but really helpful summary the new “secular” moment we’re living in called How (Not) To Be Secular. Check it out.

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