Culture and the Church: Introduction

For the month of February, this blog will be devoted to exploring the topic of the culture in the church.  This is a very essential topic that is being addressed by many different groups of people in many different ways while some groups would rather pretend that their is no need for the church to address this issue.  This key issue is being addressed by everyone from the Emergent Church Movement to the Seeker Sensitive Church Model to the Young Reformed Movement.  Everyone is seeking to answer the question that Jesus talks about in the text in John 17Open Link in New Window which is known as His High Priestly Prayer.  The prayer reads that “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world” (John 17Open Link in New Window: 15-18 ESV).  This prayer is a call for Christians to be sent out into the world to spread the gospel, yet it also talks about being in the world but not of it.  This passage is the key to sparking the ongoing discussion of the interaction between Christianity and culture.  There are schools of thought that fall on two extremes that all the ideas surrounding the culture and the church seek to avoid.  The first view is the extreme view of being “not of the world.”  This is a view in which we as followers of Jesus should construct a Christian bubble of safety from a world of sin and live our lives completely unengaged from the world that needs Jesus.  The fundamental flaw with this view is that it totally misses the mission of the church given by Jesus in the Great Commission to “…you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1Open Link in New Window: 8b ESV).  The other extreme is just as deadly. It appears to some to be better because it does not miss the call of the Great Comission, but it crushes the witness of the church by neglecting to display the holiness of God.  This is a view where we engage so much in the culture around us that we not only participate in the conversations of the culture but also begin to live out the sin of the culture.  This is a trap that is easy to fall into especially for students because it is cool to be the one who pushes the button and crosses the line.  This second view causes the church to have little impact in the culture due to looking just like the culture except for attending religious services.  This month will be a journey into a conversation that leaders and thinkers in the church are having as we seek to live out the mission that Jesus has left us with in the midst of a postmodern and post-Christian culture.