2nd Most Innovative Church: Got to Speak the Culture

Ditching the preacher's robe for a casual sport coat and tie, the Rev. Mark Beeson goes into his fourth week of sermons based off of the popular television series "24."

The hour is 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. and the scene, an interrogation room. A young man interrogates friends and his own mother to choose who to place in his speed dial friends list. Mom sways his favor with cookies and makes it into one of the friends spots in his cell phone. This short video clip plays on a movie-theater-like screen in front of the church to open Beeson's latest sermon series, "24," at Granger Community Church in Granger, Ind.

Beeson preaches to some 6,000 attendants every weekend, up from early last year when his advertised sermon series on drew in an additional 1,000-plus to the services.

"I think your target dictates your strategy, which in the context of orthodox Christian faith, there is great latitude in the methodology," Beeson said of his innovative church model in an interview with The Christian Post. "What your target is really determines your message."

Granger Community's target - the unchurched.

Around the same time last year, Granger was grabbing media attention for its billboard advertisements stating: and picturing two pairs of feet peeking out from beneath a bed sheet. The controversial ad was part of the church's tactics to draw the unchurched to hear Beeson's series on "Pure Sex."

"Here's the bottom line, we have to speak the language of the culture," Beeson said. "It's that simple."

According to the megachurch pastor, placing cultural context around Scripture is key to preaching to a 21st century generation.

"If we think we can simply just say the words and have the same meaning as they had 200 years ago, then we have simply misread our current cultural context," he stressed.

But weaving creativity into the church's approach does not cross out traditional Christian teaching, Beeson indicated, as some church leaders have raised concern over.

"We're not doing away with what has been." he explained. "We're simply determined to communicate with beautiful and current strategies so that people understand and apply what has been to the present reality."

The arts raise the issues and the questions, Beeson further stated, and the Bible addresses those issues and helps people wrestle with those questions.

Other churches are beginning to catch on to the successful outreach strategy.

Next Level Church in Fort Meyers, Fla., is advertising a similar billboard sign to that of Granger's on the highway. Except this one states: and illustrates drawn male and female figures as one would see on a restroom sign.

Drawing from Granger Community, the Rev. Matt Keller of Next Level is launching a six-week series on relationships later this month and wants the community to know that the church is willing to talk about sex.

Just like Keller, Beeson said he benefits from the work of other successful churches and pastors. "We learn from everyone," he commented, naming Billy Hybels, Rick Warren, Ed Young and Andy Stanley among many evangelical leaders.

Such leaders, he continued, have "paved the way for this wave of outstanding ministry all across America."

Granger Community Church was recently voted the second most innovative church in the top 25 list by Outreach magazine. was number one.

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