A few years ago, as I sat in a Starbucks, typing away on my computer, working on a sermon. I paused to pray and ask God to help me with what I believed to be a hot sermon. I felt in my spirit an instruction to take a moment and listen to the people around me. The topics of conversation varied dramatically. Some were humorous, others quite sad. I looked at my computer screen then listened. I looked. I listened. It dawned on me that my sermon addressed not one of the topics I heard that day. God showed me in that moment how easy it is to prepare and preach a good sound doctrinal message without ever dealing with real-time issues.

Allow me to give you five topics that meet people right where they are:

1. What Do We Say About Caitlyn? Unless you have been on Mars, you know that Bruce Jenner has transitioned to Caitlyn Jenner. The church has to address this topic because it brings to the forefront issues a shift in culture. Caitlyn is the most prominent story of 2015 so far. What is your church’s stance on transitioning, homosexuality, and same-sex marriage? How should your members respond to these issues that are at our front door? A training on using the word of God to engage the cultural shift will help your members respond lovingly and appropriately.

2. Up In Smoke. The legalization of marijuana in this country is happening swiftly at this point. What should the church teach about this? Do we understand the legal implications of this? It is legal in some states and illegal in others. Do we truly understand the moral dilemma our country is in right now? Are we honest about how many Christians are already smoking weed? Smoking weed keeps many people from getting or keeping jobs. Why isn’t the church talking about this with more purpose than just a side point in a sermon? We are good at being reactive with recovery ministries, but how about hosting a forum or teaching on the reality of legalization?

3. I’ve Tried to Hold Out But I Like Sex. This topic has and always will be one that dominates church life. People are having sex and we know it. So why are we not talking about it? I can’t remember the last time I did pre-marital counseling for virgins. The church has to be realistic and yes, always teach purity, but what about teaching responsibility? Casual sex, STDs and unplanned pregnancies are where people ARE. The church tends to teach where they should be while turning a blind eye to where they are right now. I wonder would it make a difference if we put more emphasis on teaching men purity instead of suggestively putting it all on the woman?

4. Racism. In light of recent events revealing the undying impact of racism in this country, the church should be at the forefront of this topic. In South Carolina, racism entered the doors of the church, yet there are still some who contend other factors caused that massacre. The color divide that is evident on every Sunday morning is a striking indictment against the church. Awareness, reconciliation, and speaking against injustice is the responsibility of people who claim to operate on the foundation of love.

5. The Poverty/Debt Mentality. This is a topic I rarely hear taught in churches. There is a deep, dark spirit of poverty and or debt that shackles many people. A poverty/debt mentality is diametrically opposed to the “generous giver” we encourage people to be. They are not only smothered in debt, but for many individuals, a stain may have etched its way into their spirits. They are in survival mode, just trying to make it. These are people who are used to living check to check and that mindset translates into living Sunday to Sunday. I will write more about this group next week, but the church has to see that yes, there are people who are spiritually bankrupt, but there’s a whole lot of saved folks who are literally bankrupt.

Can you let me know your thoughts on these Hot Topics and how you have addressed them at your church?