Sunday, July 05, 2009

More on Engaging Culture

I came across a short paper I wrote after first reading Resident Aliens and beginning to think about engaging culture. Here's what I wrote.


How does the Church Engage the World?

First, definitions…


  • Called out ones
  • Sent


  • From “go” to “come”

Sometime between 1960 and 1980, an old, inadequately conceived world ended, and a fresh, new world began. When and how did we change? Although it may sound trivial, one of us is tempted to date the shift sometime on a Sunday evening in 1963. Then, in Greenville, South Carolina, in defiance of the state’s time-honored blue laws, the Fox Theater opened on Sunday. Seven of us – regular attenders of the Methodist Youth Fellowship at Buncombe Street Church – made a pact to enter the front door of the church, be seen, then quietly slip out the back door and join John Wayne at the Fox.

Resident Aliens, by Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon

This morning (9/15/02), instead of “going to church”, we went to the Depot in downtown Mill Valley in an attempt to begin asking the above question. My journey began about six months ago, while I was on staff at (a local church). We had planned on using a “Man on the Street” video interview for the service. One of our girls had shot the footage and given it to someone else to be edited. He accidentally erased it, and on Saturday night called her to tell her the bad news. They decided that she would get to church early the next morning, go across the street to the cafĂ©, and shoot more footage. An hour later, we were watching on the big screen what was going on across the street. As I watched, I couldn’t help wondering what those people would think about us watching what they were doing. I wondered for the first time why we weren’t over there instead of over here. Since that time, I have been wondering what it would look like for the church to be more preoccupied with “going” than with trying to get people to “come.”

We’ve come a long way since 1963. During those days, Sunday mornings were reserved for going to church. No stores were open; no one (maybe a few) was at the parks; very few were on the roads, except as they were going to church and then going to the restaurants for lunch. The world was good. Where have we gone wrong? Hauerwas and Willimon share that the world wasn’t perhaps all that good, and perhaps now the world isn’t so bad. People may not be interested in church as they have known it, but many are interested in the good news of Jesus.

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