Thursday, May 14, 2009

Engaging the Culture?

This morning I came across a new service called, “Christian Twitter.” I found it by reading a church marketing blog at:

This Christian Twitter site is at:

The church marketing blog was quite critical of this “Christian” version of a “secular” service. “So let's rename our GodPod series, turn off our GodTubes, shut down our Godwitters, log out of GodSpace, delete our Gracebook accounts and show the entire world that we care about them more than us.”

It is so hard to engage culture. We probably know the pat phrases of culture-engaging—“be in the world, but not of it”; “love the sinner, hate the sin.” That sounds easy written in a quiet office, but in reality? It’s so much easier to create a homogenous community of people who agree with us, act like us, talk like us, and look like us.

I believe one of the reasons the PC(USA) is struggling so greatly is too many of us have become too comfortable with our own tribe. We’re not engaging each other—discovering and celebrating what unites us.

At the last two Presbytery meetings, I’ve asked people to sign up to pray for our new church. Most people sign up, and I now have a fairly large E-mail list of people to whom I send a monthly prayer newsletter. One reason I have asked people to pray is I want people with a wide variety of theological views to pray for our church. We can be united in prayer, right? No matter what our views about salvation, homosexuality, biblical authority, etc. we all can pray for the ministry and mission of a new Presbyterian church, right?

Well—no—we all can’t. I remember the response I received from one person whose views I would describe as at a theological extreme. I asked the person to pray for our church. The person responded to me as if I had turned into a vampire and wanted to take something precious from the person's body. Let’s just say the person's body language wasn’t positive! I couldn’t remember the two of us ever talking, so I introduced myself and shared what I was doing with the new church. “I know who you are,” the person said and then walked away.

Hmmm—I don’t think the person’s comment was a compliment.

Last night our Emerging Community was discussing the last chapter of Philip Yancey’s book, “The Jesus I Never Knew.” It’s always amazing to me how Jesus engaged the culture of 1st century Palestine. He talked to all people—terrible sinners, religious officials, political leaders—he was interested in engaging everyone. He was literally in the world for his entire ministry. He died in the world; after he was raised from the dead he came back into the world. He didn’t protect himself from the world. No matter the person’s status Jesus wanted to be engaged.

Sadly the church of Jesus Christ is not living out the engagement of our leader.

There will always be attempts to create homogenous Christian communities; it’s easier to do that then truly engage people and culture. Creating homogeneity comes at a hight price for the world isn’t interested in homogenous churches with high fences.

The Church Marketing blog put it this way: “People who live outside of the Christian bubble roll their eyes. You lose them forever. They see you as demeaning something they value, and they think less of you for it. You trade the entire mission of God for the comfort of a walled garden, and you chose your Christian social network over actually networking with non-Christians. It doesn't go unnoticed.”

No comments: