Contemplating culture…

I would like to begin taking an occasional opportunity to address the idea of the christian and the culture that surrounds them. As a child who grew up very much a product of CCM, Thomas Kinkade, WWJD bracelets and “christian” subculture as a whole this idea of a christian and culture has seemed almost foreign to me. Growing up I was convinced that if you weren’t submersed into that culture, you weren’t fully christian. It seems to me that we continue to produce generations that buy into this very same methodology. Within the parameters of the church, rather than addressing culture and defining culture, we have chosen to create a subculture and then attack culture at large.

My hope is that we can discuss the concepts of the christian and culture over the next few weeks. I’m particularly looking forward to your comments as I share with you the ideas and thoughts that I’ve been working through over the past 3-5 years. I also look forward to sharing some resources in the form of both books, interviews, papers and videos that I’ve found that have shaped my thinking.

As a starting point, I’d like to share with you Mark Driscoll’s thoughts about “christian culture.” He shared this in the context of an intro video for the recent Desiring God Conference. Driscoll has some pointed, controversial thoughts, but one’s that I think carry value.

Enjoy “Christian Culture Vs. Biblical Culture“!

Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & Haddon. He’s Senior Pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he’s a debtor to grace.

6 thoughts on “Contemplating culture…

  1. Brother Micah,

    Great thoughts by Driscoll. I agree with him as I have constantly pointed to music as being one of the most theologically abused areas that goes without question. I am not one that believes the “beat” of the music causes fleshly desires to arise within. However, if the words are not theologically sound and the theme of the song centers on self, there is a problem.

    Also, he uses the term “christian entertainment”. This phrase itself adds to separating Christianity into a sub-culture. I went to see the movie Facing the Giants in a public movie theater. That was a great movie and it was not separated into a “christian entertainment” category. It was released in a cultural environment that we as evangelical Christians have spoken against for years.

    I believe that if we are going to engage our culture we must involve ourselves in the culture. We do this by making certain the Truth we desire to get across is presented within a cultural context, but it is done at the same level of quality the culture we are trying to reach is used to experiencing.


  2. Tim, Something must be going wrong, we’re agreeing on too many things! 🙂

    Seriously, though, you are right on. There is a genuine fear within the church for engaging in culture. We seem to be afraid that if we engage in culture that is sinful we might “catch it” as if it’s contagious. I agree with Driscoll in that christian’s must step up and become culture makers.

    Additionally, I agree wholeheartedly with your last comment. Truth accompanied by quality is sorely lacking in our churches today. We must stop using the mantra, “We’ll do our best and God will be happy with it,” or “God understands that we’re small, or financially limited, and so He’ll bless our efforts anyway.” In most cases statements like these are used as copouts to avoid having to produce quality. It’s no wonder the world isn’t attracted to our pathetic, amateurish, half-done events and opportunities. When they see that we don’t produce quality, they must be convinced that we really don’t care all that much if we won’t invest the time, enegery and resources in it to do it well.

  3. Micah:

    I was waiting for someone at the bus station last Thursday when a poorly dressed woman approached me and gave me a simple version of a “tract” that she’d printed up on red paper with a Sharpie. She did not appear to be someone of even modest means, but she did what she could.

    Most of the time when someone says “We’re just doing our best and God will be happy with it”, I’d guess they’re not. This lady was, and I was so thunderstruck that I didn’t do any of the things that I now wish I’d done.

    I learned a lot that day.

    Also, this being Pastor Appreciation Month, my thanks to your for your ministry. I know you are called enough to do the job even when it’s not your sole means of support (I did read that you work for Ralston Purina, right?).

    That’s admirable.

  4. Bob-

    I certainly wouldn’t fit a lady like that in my “just barely getting by” category. Praise the Lord that He still loves recieving the “widows mite.”

    Thanks for the encouragement. I am bi-vocational, and I actually don’t mind it, although I’d love to be full time some day.

    I don’t work at Ralston-Purina, though. I work at the St. Joseph News-Press.

  5. Micah:
    This is one of my most severe soap boxes these days. You can tell it came from the Christian subculture if it costs more and doesn’t work as well. My senior-in-high-school son, who is a drummer, have had many conversations about this. I like so much of what Driscoll says because he says what I often think. I am excited to have him on our campus next fall.
    I tell our students I would like to make it a requirement for everyone going into ministry to work at least a year in the culture in non-“ministry” positions. I learned as much about ministering in the culture working in a foundry in seminary as I did serving as a pastor.
    There are so many who see so many things similarly, though not at all points. It is unfortunate that at times the blogs bring a focus to the extremes where differences are inevitable. Thanks for emphasizing some things on which we all concur.

  6. Dr. Reid-

    I’m with you 100%. I’m convinced most of our church pastors don’t “get” non-churched people. They don’t understand their culture and consequently haven’t the slightest clue about addresing it with the gospel.

    I don’t like working a full time job along with my ministry but I’m eternally thankful for what it teaches me in regards to my ministry.

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