Thursday, February 26, 2009

Reaching Culture

James McDonald has an interesting post on reaching the culture. (You can read the entire post here.)

He states that when people claim they want to reach the culture, they actually mean one of three things:

1) They mean reaching people very different from themselves. Who doesn’t long to see people so different than we are taken and shaken by the awesomeness of who Jesus Christ really is? Such conversions are the best stories in any church and even in the book of Acts, yet more typically don’t we see people reaching people like themselves? Isn’t it much more common for us to win lost souls from inside our own cultural subset? Mom’s are the best ones to reach hurting mom’s. People who have been through a broken marriage are better at reaching someone in that heartache. Converted homosexuals will always be most effective at reaching back into that darkness and pulling others to light and liberty, etc.

2) They mean reaching secular people who have no interest in God. All of us feel the weight of the teaming masses of people passing by us on the freeway or at the mall with no apparent interest in Christ, the joy of our souls. Every sincere believer has felt their faith numbed by the democracy of unbelief. Of course we want to win the aimless arrogant graduate student so articulate in his atheism, but why? Could it be that we want to win such people because framing the arguments to penetrate their secularism bolsters our own faith. Do we see Jesus spending a lot of time targeting people with no time for God? Do we see Paul dialoguing ad nausea with high profile intellectuals? Might the fascination–even preoccupation–of some churches with Mars Hill/Acts 17 flow from a misguided fear that the gospel is not universally relevant if it is not successful in every quadrant of society?

3) They mean reaching cool people who make them feel cool. One of the most disturbing trends in the emergent church is the focus on ’style.’ Living in Wrigleyville, (Chicago) or Greenwich Village (New York) etc. is most assuredly ‘cool.’ And seeking to share Christ with the masses of immensely immoral 20 somethings that inhabit such regions is a worthy goal; but why is that target so popular? Almost everyone it seems wants access to the arts district in Austin Tx., or the uptown area of Atlanta. Who is this about really? When did style statements, and fashionable eye wear, and how I dress and how I act, and my toootally tasteful music preferences become such a key ingredient in reaching ‘the culture?’ Who is all this really about? Is it about lost broken people in these areas dying without Christ and without hope? Or is it about me choosing a place of ministry that advances my personal mission of self expression? I’m just asking . . .
The article ends with...Cultures don’t come to Christ, people do, one at a time.

I think McDonald hits this one right on the head. I remember listening to an average, white, conservative, mid-western kid share how he was going to get his church to reach the jet-black-spiked-hair, tatooed, body-pierced smoker to start coming to his church. My questions were, "Are there any guys like that in this community?" (I don't think there are.) "What must you do to reach that guy?" (I don't think he had a clue, especially since he himself was not like that.) And lastly, "Why not the same amount of passion for the plain, ordinary accountant who has two kids and loves to collect civil war memorabilia? Isn't he headed to hell without Jesus too?"

It seems to me that when we preach our true citizenship, we call all peoples of all cultures to come to Him!