Action Step 2 // Engage Culture
When it comes to engaging culture there are some days that I just want to bury my head in the sand because it all seems so overwhelming. The culture of the society I live in is so different from the culture of the church as I have known it. Many of us grew up in a society where at least some of the morals and norms were shared with the church. That is no longer the case. We live in a post-Christian era. And for many of our youth that is very confusing. “Because the Bible says so” is no longer enough (if it ever really was).
In order to help this generation, both those inside and those outside of the church, we need to find ways to engage the culture we live in.
I want to take a moment here to differentiate between engaging the culture and imitating it. Too often as churches we believe that if we make our music trendy, put in a coffee bar, and hire a young hipster pastor we are engaging the culture. While there is nothing wrong with any of that per se let us not deceive ourselves into thinking that those things engage the culture.
What this generation is looking for is authenticity. They want a church that allows them to ask the hard questions then is willing to wrestle through the answers with them. They want us to tackle the tough topics of sexual identity, injustice, racial discrimination, and mental health. They want to believe in something bigger than themselves and have opportunities to live it out on a daily basis.
We need model what Christian living looks like outside of the walls of the church. What does it mean to be a Christian in the workplace? On the sports field? In our community?
We need to start opening our eyes to the world around us. Read widely – newspapers, popular books, magazines. Familiarize yourself with social media. Go to the movies. Watch a bit of TV. Listen with humility to those who have a different opinion than you do. How can we engage a culture without trying to understand it? How can we share the gospel message without knowing how it differs from the message of the world we live in?
Paul knew how important cultural engagement was. In Acts 17:22-23 Paul says this: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.” He goes on to tell them of the one true God. But notice that he first caught their attention by understanding what was going on in their culture.
This is hard work and something that we must commit time and energy to but it is essential if we want to see this generation embrace the message of Jesus Christ.
Here is one resource that I find very helpful in educating myself on today’s culture: https://axis.org/ct/