A friend ask the question “How do you show culture relevance to the people and not let that define or consume the church?” (a much larger explanation of her question can be read here.
There was a time when this question was very cut and dry for me. It was a time when what defined me as a Christ follower was my rituals and my rules. Culture threatened to tempt me away from the rules. Culture didn’t understand my rituals. So in order to reach culture I needed to mask my rituals and rules in the language and clothing of culture. I needed to be distinct and mimic culture at the same time. My slogan was “in the world but not of the world.” I walked this strange tight rope; on one side was my “holiness” and on the other my witness.
Now I think about this question much differently. Here is my over simplified answer in three statements:
- What makes us distinct (Holy) does not make us irrelevant nor does it separate us from culture.
- Culture is not a place we left when we joined Christ that we now have to speak to from afar or sail back to on the ship Tricky-Tricky-Disingenuousness.
- Culture is not a danger to Christ followers; Christ followers are a danger to culture.
At this point I realize that many of you think I have misunderstood the question. I promise I haven’t. To further explain my answer I’m going let’s discuss three different topics:
1. What is distinct about Jesus followers? What makes us different from the rest of the world?
2. What is distinct or different about our gatherings? What is God’s unchanging model of “church?” Also, what is the roll of our gatherings in the world?
3. Once we have defined how we are different from the rest of the world, how then do are we to maintain or distinctness and engage culture?
I’m really excited about this discussion!