Thursday, June 21, 2007

Church and Culture: Who's Converting Who?

What a blast First Principles Day Camp has been! 32 kids went through an intense time of study on what the Bible says about the problem of sin and the salvation afforded through obedient faith in the finished work of Jesus at Calvary.

To cap off the week, Julia Hall and Sierra Burgess were baptized into Jesus last night following Bible class! I couldn't help bit feel a tinge of envy as I watched Michael baptize his daughter into Jesus. What a thrill for a daddy and a daughter!

A special thanks to Rod, Al, Sarah, Hylin, Erin B., Jennifer, Michelle and Erin C. for providing lunch for us each day and to Grady, Shelly, Rena, Sandy and Candy for providing transportation. And big kudos to Paul for organizing the trip to Boomers, the movie, and the afternoon of bowling as a reward for the kids' hard work.


Last night, our group outreach at the 52-unit apartment complex for at-risk families kicked off. A group of 45 from Woodward Park fed the residents, distributed clothing, and began setting up Bible studies for the adults. I am anxious to see all that God has in store through this new ministry. The good folks at the Health and Human Services of Fresno County are allowing us back next Wednesday since the two-week appointment falls on the 4th of July. Keep praying as we keep spreading seed!


My great friend, Allan Stanglin, is now blogging. Yesterday, he posted a penetrating piece on the tension between Church and culture. Here are his words for you to chew on this Thursday.

“In leaning over to speak to the modern world, I fear we may have fallen in" (William Willimon, 1997).

Willimon’s article from the Winter 1997 issue of Leadership should be required reading for every preacher and elder, and probably for every church member. I try to read it at least once or twice a month to remind me of what’s important and to shape my approach to Scripture and to preaching. I hear so often, daily it seems, that we need to reach the culture, we need to speak to the culture, we need to adapt what we do and how we do it to the culture. I find that a lot of the decisions we make regarding “church” are made in reaction to, or in an effort to reach out to, or even reflect our culture.

Willimon says, “the Bible doesn’t want to speak to the modern world; the Bible wants to convert the modern world.” Most of the time, I think, we treat our culture as if it were a fact, a reality to which we’re obligated to adjust, instead of merely one way of looking at things or doing things with which we might argue.

Again, Willimon: “Christianity is a distinct culture with its own vocabulary, grammar, and practices. Too often, when we try to speak to our culture, we merely adopt the culture of the moment rather than present the gospel to the culture.”

“The point is not to speak to the culture, “Willimon continues, “the point is to change it. And God’s appointed means of producing change is called ‘church.’”

And I think the apostle Paul would agree.

“Since you died with Christ to the basic principals of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules" (Colossians 2:20)?

May we see our culture for what it is, a set of systems and values that are opposed to Christ and his Church. And may we strive together to change the culture for him and the Kingdom, not adapt to it.