Thursday, August 16, 2007

Creating Culture

In An Unstoppable Force Erwin McManus talks about the need for the church to be cultural architects. Rather than responding to the culture, the church should be the force shaping culture. Rather than thinking we need to respond to the postmodern culture or even modern culture, the church should be creating culture.

Think about how postmodern culture came into existence. It is the result of people being influenced by media and education. People don't consciously choose whether or not they are going to be postmodern or not, rather they are the product of the influences which have come into their lives.

We will face this long term problem if we, as preachers and Christians, seek merely to respond to culture: we will constantly find ourselves to be at least one step behind. Just as soon as we think we have things figured out, the playing field changes. This will leave us frustrated because we will constantly be wondering if we are even connecting with the world.

It is important that we understand the times in which we live. So I am not saying that studying and trying to understand culture is not worthwhile, but I am saying it is not the most important thing. As the Church, rather than responding to the culture as we have come to understand it, we need to create our own culture. We need to believe that the message we have can transform people's thinking. We can influence people and create a culture in which we can more effectively communicate the truth of God's word and minister to people. A culture, that quite simply, shows the world there is a better way to live.

The culture I am talking about is not the culture of our nature, but the culture of our individual church families. Just as each family has a different make up in culture (traditions, the way they communicate, etc.), each Church family will have a little different culture as well.

The apostle Paul told the Roman Christians:
Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is (Romans 12:2; NLT).
One of the goals of the follower of Jesus Christ is to create, or perhaps a better way to put it is, to transform culture so that it reflects God's will. The Church in the United States is failing because we are trying to respond, or react, to the culture we live in, rather than transforming culture by creating a new culture in our church families.

I guess the bottom line is that part of our goal is not to simply respond to the culture in which we live, but rather create a new culture which is different than the world around us. It is the difference between simply adding Jesus and being transformed by Jesus. A new culture is what we are after.

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