Thursday, May 22, 2008

An Evangelical Primer on Culture

Certain slices of the church have been engaged in cultural awareness and culture making for a long time. Evangelicals, only in the last few decades, became aware that culture was something to be engaged (breaking from their isolationist, fundamentalist past), primarily to bring the gospel in relevant ways.

An artist friend, Jeff LeFever, of mine asked when evangelicals were going to stop merely engaging culture and start creating it. Many evangelicals have already been involved deliberately in that mission, while still many more have been involved in making it badly. John Mark Reynolds of Biola Univ says that making culture is not an option. The only option is making it well or making it poorly.

Andy Crouch has entered the fray to educate and encourage evangelicals to think more about culture, what forms it, what questions to ask of cultural artifacts, and to take responsibility to create culture beyond our consumerism and our evangelistic techniques.

IVP is publishing his book, Culture Making: Recovering our Creative Calling. And you can read the first couple of chapters right away!

For those of you involved in a broader cultural conversation, you will not find anything new here.
But if you're looking for a very easy to read, accessible approach to understanding what culture is and how to think about it, this is a good book for you (or to recommend to your friends that you want to bring up to speed). The rest of the book will be released in a couple of months.

I think one of the reasons the mega-church model is beginning to fail is that a whole sub-culture has grown up within it that has cut itself off from the relevance of the mundane, everyday life. It's like walking into a concert, framed with certain rules, overwhelming our senses, pretending to be more important than any other place. And this becomes disillusioning after a while. Here's an article on recent statistics.

Some of us may wince that 'culture making' will be a new fad and so evangelicals will exploit it. That's the risk. But hopefully a few brave hearts will catch the vision while many others just try to be "cool" with their new sloganeering. I can already see the church marquees that used to say, "Real, Relavant," will now say "Culture Making." And it will only be a slogan and not a description of what's happening inside. This too, will be is part of creating culture gone bad. But we can't blame Andy Crouch for that!

And while you're at it, jump over to and pick up Dick Staub's The Culturally Savvy Christian. Staub "gets it" and has for a long time.

And, hey, since I'm making recommendations, subscribe to Mars Hill Audio Journal with Ken Myers. It is well worth the annual subscription and will fill your mind and hearts with solid ideas during your commute.

Make sure you check out yesterday's blog entry too.