Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cultural Relevance vs. Cultural Immersion

There are a few things under my skin right now regarding the behavior of "the Church" (including Pastors), but without getting on that soapbox I'd like to expound a little on my thoughts regarding the Church and our American Culture.
I believe with out a doubt that the Church today has to be culturally relevant.  If we're still acting like the Church of 1950, then we will only reach the people still living in the 1950's.  With that said, I will say I believe there's a difference between being relevant and being immersed in the culture.
For example, let's look back into the bible and pick a people group.  Off the top of my head, I'll pick the Romans.  I haven't done an in depth study on their culture, but I do know they were a bit risque and a whole lot more liberal than I've been raised! :) But let's consider planting a church/revitalizing a dead church in Rome.  One of the main topics to consider is, "How can we present the gospel in a way these people can understand it?" or "How can we be culturally relevant?"
Since the Romans were into all kinds of sex related stuff, we could start a series on "Sex and the Marriage Bed" and begin introducing them to a biblical approach to sex.  This is what I would consider culturally relevant.
Or...we could go to their bath houses and engage in their "talk", build "relationships", and enjoy the entertainment at their "parties", etc.  All the while waiting for the opportunity to share Jesus with them at an appropriate time, because bible thumping is sooo yesterday and old school.  We're not into that. (Can I just say here, that I'm thankful we're past the bible thumping days!) I would consider this approach Cultural Immersion.
Now I know what you are thinking...you would never do the bath house approach while some of you are thinking the bath house approach is right on.  Here's my thought, I am disturbed by a trend I am seeing where the Church is becoming more and more immersed in culture and less and less different.  It is possible to be culturally relevant without being culturally immersed.
In my opinion, cultural immersion looks like the unchurched, walks like the unchurched, talks like the unchurched.  Hmmmm, have WE become the unchurched?
Cultural relevance looks like the unchurched, talks like God, walks like God. Hmmmmm, maybe we are different? maybe we are holy like God is holy?
things to think about...would love to have your opinion!

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