Okay, so I've been curious-- and still am-- about this 'culture in the church' for the purpose of 'being relevant' thing. While I do understand that in order to be effective, the church must do things to make the church have a certain 'appeal' for the unsaved, I get that! I mean ... I want the prostitute and drug dealer to come rolling in on Sunday morning and give their lives to God! I understand that they would NOT do that in the 'traditional' church setting.
What I'm confused about is what part of the culture needs to be pulled into the church in order to minister to the unsaved person? Let's say, you have the regular old church building, or even a portable church in a lower to mid class area... what's going to make the difference for that poor soul on Sunday morning?
I might be getting these two things confused, but hang with me ... I wanted to define 'culture'. This is what I found at Dictionary.com.
a : the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations
b : the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; also : the characteristic features of everyday existence (as diversions or a way of life} shared by people in a place or time
c : the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization a corporate culture focused on the bottom line d : the set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic
Okay, so now that we've defined culture, I'll tell you what I'm seeing in this.
First, I'll go with the 'American Dream'. I think Americans have used this term to define their values, goals, attitudes, social practices, ways of life, etc. Even though we've changed what the 'American Dream' is-- it used to mean that we were to take advantage of the opportunities at hand; to seize the day! Go to college! Own a business! Own your own home! You can!
Today, the American Dream means; to have the perfect life. The perfect wedding, spouse, children, dog, college fund, car, job, house, yard, social circles, preschool for your 4 year-old (WOW), Football, Baseball, etc. The list goes on and on! This is what contributes to the 'narcissistic culture' we live in today (whole different subject ... another day).
Okay, so ...I'm not saying that all Americans are like this, but you can't say that you've never had the pressure of adults around you ask you questions that made you think you weren't doing something right- oh wait-- not just 'right' but, perfectly!
So what I'm wondering is this, is this the part of culture we've knowingly or unknowingly added in the church? Because it would explain a lot if so. We all know that people can't maintain this 'perfect image' forever. I think this also creates the dual life of the Christian. You know, acting holier than thou, quoting scripture, being the jolly greeter at the door on Sunday, but away from church people would never know you were saved.
If I had to come to church and pretend to be perfect around all the other people that were pretending to be perfect, I'd get pretty sick of church. I'd even get more sick of it if I was being real while everyone around me was pretending. What kind of environment is that for the 'unsaved'? I'll tell you, it's confusing!
This American Dream- perfection stuff is FAKE and it's idolatry! But if it is the frame (the way you see things) you use when you go to church, when you build a relationship with God, and when you look at yourself, it's not going to last. What little change we do make will not stay because it was based on something completely false.
If we're calling our culture one of perfection, the idea we've planted in our heads is the same when we attend church. We come to church looking for the best praise team, the best preacher, the best programs for the kids, the best building, the best, the best, the best! This is what we bring into the church, this is what the leaders conform to and they try to give you the best. *Because if they give you the best, THEY become 'the best'.* (Reader, meet codependency) Tell them what you want and they'll try to make it happen to please you. Or they will at least make you think they've changed something for you. And at this point it gets really sad ...
None of it is what God wants. None of this is God's best for your life.
I don't know about you, but I want God's best for my life! He has promised me many things! I believe that I'll get them, but I understand that it all came ad still comes at a price. I don't 'deserve' any of it. I'll never be 'good enough' for any of it. And I can't be anything CLOSE to perfect without Him!