I just posted a quick article on culture over at Vista Leadership Blog.
I sometimes wonder what the world was like years ago. Sometimes life seems so hectic and complicated in the 21 century. I long for the days of “Leave It To Beaver.” Days that seem full of peace and wholeness. Days when we knew our neighbors, parents stayed together and life seemed fun and fulfilling.
I know I’m dreaming. I also know since Adam ate the apple, (Um, was there not a Banana or something?) sin has dominated our world. But never has life changed as much as in the past 50 years. We can now go to space, fly in the air, inhale global news in the click of a mouse and pay bills on online.
Reality is this-Life has changed, we will never go back to the way that it was. Yes, there is a sense of sadness. But also I’m filled with hope.
A big question is this, How does the church respond to ever-changing culture? Big question right? I have good news friends; The Church has always been responding to change. That is the beauty of the gospel. It’s timeless. It’s like water; the church is fluid, but the truth is evident.
Truth does not change, but how we communicate truth must change. And where we communicate that truth is vital. Jesus came for the sick, not those who are whole. It’s messy dealing with sick folks.
This current generation of church leadership in America has experienced a unique shift. In the past the church stood at the center of culture. Most folks thought the Bible was true even if they did not follow Jesus. In many cities the church steeple was the most recognisable building. Times have changed haven’t they? Churches now meet in schools, movie theater’s, clubs, art galleries and many more convenient locations. Remember we are fluid. We change as culture changes, so we can help transform culture for the glory of God!
We now live in a global village that has multiple influences on our culture. We live in an age of relativism and tolerance. We live in the age what most would consider the first Post-Christian age. Christ no longer stands at the center of humanity. Now he is just one of many religious figures and cultural icons.
So how do we respond to this change?
First of all, we can’t run and hide and create our own safe sub-cultures. As Christ-followers we must stand together in the midst of dominate culture. It’s hard to have influence in the world if you only spend time with those who already believe what you believe. Life change happens when we are with those who need to change their lives. Love can only win when we act and “be” the church.
We need to do cultural exegesis. We need to become learners. We need to adapt. Of course we must proclaim the gospel, we must proclaim truth. We must live “different” lives. But we also have to contextualize truth to connect with culture. Think about Jesus, he was a masterful story-teller. He used 1st century cultural metaphors to engage his audience and to lead them into truth.
Therefore we must use 21st century metaphors to connect the gospel to our culture, to help create the future and not always be late arrivals. How do we redeem technology, movies, music and community? How do we spend time in 3rd places (cafes, pubs, sporting events, etc…) and build natural relationships?
It’s vital for the average American Christian to understand that they are now missionaries to their own culture. Therefore we must learn the land, the language and the people. We must seek God for wisdom and understanding so we can clearly communicate the gospel in ways that are effective, yet natural.
So work no longer is “just” work. It’s now a mission field of possibilities. School is not just a time to learn, but a time to see life change. Your neighborhood is no longer a place to just live, but it becomes a place of community and missional opportunities.
I wish I had more time to develop these thoughts. But the bottom line is this, God has called us to become missionaries sent back into our culture to partner with Jesus and to bring life change to those around us.
That’s what makes a good leader, and that will help us redeemn culute for the glory of God!