G3: Tim Challies – Mission in a Changing World

This is a live blog of the G3 Conference. I will be updating along with the speakers. You can follow the line-up at: G3 Schedule.

Tim begins by rightly making fun of how the South shuts down at the mere mention of ice and snow. A preemptive shutdown he called it.

Tim going to speak about how the way we communicate the unchanging gospel will change. What are the specific challenges that come to us as Christians in a changing world? We are in the middle of a massive shift in communication – computer to internet. There has been a worldwide digital explosion.

He rejects Francis of Assisi’s “preach the gospel; if necessary, use words.” Our mandate from the Lord is to communicate. What’s coming along that we can use. What should we reject. We have to be careful.

Christians are to 1) go, 2) preach the gospel, and 3) disciple. Carrying out these components has new challenges in this new digital world. Be aware, but we have an opponent who will try to use them for his purposes as well.


Can’t carry out the Great Commission on my couch. We must go where people have not yet heard the gospel. The Apostles began in their cities and expanded.

What does it mean to “go” in a digital world. We must go somewhere, somehow in order to share the gospel. The younger general believes they can go without going anywhere. The internet is much of the reason for this idea. The internet makes us feel as though it transports us to another place. We feel like we are “there” at that online portal.

When we watched the same TV or read the same book we never imagined like we were together. But accessing the internet makes us feel connected to one another. There is a rise in cyber churches.

Much of today’s identity is found online instead of geographic as it was in the past. People are replacing their geographic presence with what they find online. Community and identity is much more shared based on interests now instead of community. People will sit alone in a dark room and go online in order to find fellowship.

It’s all well and good to find community in common interests, but there is an issue of authentic relationships in this area for Christians. Christians are called to go and love and serve and share the gospel. We can love best when we are actually present in the real world. I can love the person next store to me in a much more powerful way than someone across the country.

I need to be loving the people who are closest to me more. The primary responsibility is those around us. We need to continue to build real world relationships even when the culture starting to push back.

We can make comfort into an idol. We hate when people push us outside of comfort zones. Comfort zones are often found with people who are like us. We go online and make communities around common interests. The Lord has called us to involuntary communities as He builds His church.

We can’t afford to bypass real world relationships for virtual relationships. We need to go to those who are right around us. This does not mean to delete your Facebook account, etc. Go to family first, then neighbors and those around you. Just go!

Quotes Romans 10:15 and emphasizes it. “And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:15 ESV)

 Preach the Gospel

We are to communicate the gospel. We are communicating beings. We love to communicate. Ironically, as we communicate more in quantity we communicate less. Think about all the things we used to do face to face that we now do online – banking, shopping, etc.

People are doing church online. Pornography has taken over for sex for many people. Evangelism takes place online too.

There are so many things we do so much better, much more naturally face to face. We are having a different experience if we are sitting here listening to Tim talk than those who are listening online. He’s never heard of a young man who says he can’t wait until he is apart from his wife so he can write her a letter.

One of are great challenges today is pushing back against all of our mediated communications. However, there is nothing intrinsically evil about our online tools. We should not replace a real friendship with an online Facebook friendship. When we do this we are trading down.

When we are mediated – a screen removed from each other we are giving so much less of ourselves. Christians are to share their lives. Jesus said follow me and be with me. We need to learn to get off-line and get involved in the real world.

Tim gives an illustration of when a storm hit taking out the power forcing everyone outside where new relationships formed. Now they decided to meet like that once a year.

We need to call people back to something they don’t even know they are missing – deep, meaningful relationships. Christians can lead the way here.

What I put out on Facebook is not the real me, but what I want people to know about. We are not building a majority of our relationships online. We are limited our evangelism.


Our job is not complete, but just beginning once someone professes faith in Christ.

One of the big challenges in a digital world is distraction. There is so much to distract us. When writing his book “The Next Story” he wonder why he could not think anymore. And it’s not just we are thinking shallow thoughts anymore, but we are living shallow lives.

Twenty years ago no one have a phone in their car. When we got in our cars we were cut off. All of these devices has lead to shallow thoughts by all of their distractions. Our devices don’t care what we’re doing – they are always distracting us. So they active work against us.

They also passively work against us by offering a world of things to do. Our brains never shut off. In the past, we’d use down times to think, but today there is always something to distract us. We now fill every moment with entertainment; with input.

Most of the younger generation check their phones first thing in the morning. Tim has to battle himself not to check email on his phone at red lights.

Tim was inspired by Solomon. He gives the story of Solomon walking by and seeing walls broken down. Solomon had to stop, consider and think about it. Laziness lead to the broken down walls a they did not happen every night.

How do we meditate on God’s word day and night when there is always something distracting. How does God transform us if we are not meditating on His word day and night?

Putting sin to death is hard word. It takes dedicated effort. Life is a battle. We are being distracted from the battle. How can we disciple people if we are living in constant distraction? How can I disciple somebody if I am living a shallow life?

Make no mistake. There are some amazing technologies out today. We need to use these gifts in the right way. Mediating ourselves keeps us from building real relationships.

God does not forbid us these things. Maybe they are not that helpful in any context. God loves the new technology, but Satan loves them too.

Whatever you eat, whatever you drink, tweet, text – do it all to the glory of God.

Closes in prayer.

tagged as , , , in Christianity,Church Issues,Culture,Evangelism,Gospel,theology

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