Submissive Church Culture and Your Lack of Identity
What type of church do you attend? Is it like Saddleback? Or is it is more like Mars Hill? Some of may prefer the Hillsong approach while others lean towards a Mosaic feel. We readily accept these successful church models but have we ever paused to evaluate the cost of such adoption? I just completed a reading of Conquest and Cultures by Thomas Sowell. He tells the story of evolving world culture through the dominance of nation states (check out a full review here). Victorious people transfer their culture in a significant way. Losers may also impact the development of culture, everything is a synthesis of something else, but the primary role of culture creation has rested in the hands of the winners. This break down of culture forced me think twice about the popular cultures found in churches today. Ask yourself this: is your church culture dominant or submissive?
The strength of the church is found in its diversity. The never-changing message of Jesus Christ is relevant to all peoples in many different ways. Our methods of sharing the good news, therefore, are always changing. Every generation enters into a relationship with Jesus from their unique position in the world. The only constant that transcends every generation is sin; everyone is born with a sin problem.
This leaves us asking the question: what is the best way to reach people today? Churches try different things to reach different audiences. Ministries that have discovered successful methods are highly regarded as authorities on evangelism. Small churches admire these big churches and ask the question: what are they doing that we are not? Some communities experiences complete take overs of church culture. Irrelevant methods stave local churches of members; these churches are dying all over the world. Meanwhile, big churches continue to duplicate themselves on a biological scale.
Where does this leave the local church? Many leaders have taken to the adoption of popular church methods and models. They accept the terms, values and strategies of others to reach the world around them. This is nothing new. But our modern world allows for a level of homogenization that is trending in the evangelical world. Alternative church culture is mainstream and original ideas are floundering in our cut and paste society.
A submissive church cultures lacks an adequate amount of local DNA. Other identity is not your identity. Many of our churches are beginning to feel generic in lieu of an over-adoption of outside influences. Church resources are being viewed as church recipes and the perscriptive strategies of others are robbing the local churches of its own character. Your community is unique and your methods should reflect this. The greatest asset in your church does not come from a publishing house.
Be influenced by others church cultures but do not become submissive to those cultures. Most dominant churches have discovered something important about reaching into todays culture. But today's culture is more than one thing. Become an expert in discerning what is relevant to your people. Start by knowing your culture. End by changing your world.