Is the church of today intended to reflect culture or should culture reflect the church? Or possibly both? Maybe neither?
The entertainment industry justifies their corrupt products (movies, music, etc) by claiming to only be a reflection of the society around them. Thus they are somehow relating to their audience. (Talk about a cop out.)
Today is the day of “relevance” in church growth circles, i.e. how the church should relate to culture to maximize efforts to reach that culture. I do believe church must be relatable to its given culture but must never attain such a position at the price of the gospel message. Yes, the methods and mechanisms of a church must be relevant; we cannot “do church” like it was done in the 70’s or no one will show up. However, suspicion lingers about a line that is sometimes crossed by some…and when the church goes too far with ‘relevance’ it enters a place of absorption and thus, dilution. The church no longer looks different than the culture around it making it unappealing to those who need the safe-harbor-in-the-storm.
In the last couple of generations the sense of ‘community’ has disappeared in our country. No longer do people sit out on the porch in the evenings (my mother’s childhood), talk to their neighbors across the fence (ala Tim the Toolman with Wilson), or sip coffee in the mornings at the co-op with the other farmers (my wife’s grandfather). Many of us do not even know the names of neighbors. I recall the neighbor who pulled into his driveway at 5:30p, the garage door opened, the car pulled in, the door closed….until the process reversed itself at 7:30 the next morning.
What has our society become? Is the church’s responsibility only to reflect what its constituents look like…dis-connection…or should it be a catalyst towards growing and nurturing Community?
One of the underlying factors to fractured community is busy-ness or driven-ness. Our lives are running full steam ahead even while we hear the local news reporting on studies indicating people are not getting enough sleep and live exhausted. We send an impersonal text instead of dialing the phone. And when we do phone we get voice mail (because they are too busy to answer). We are bombarded by endless email. Overqhelmed by apps on our iDevice which is pushing information into our faces. We shuttle our kids to countless sporting events and/or music rehearsals (many of which are now scheduled directly on Sunday mornings). Even commitments to the church can be time-consuming and work against the family and community.
We live in an ever-more technologically connected world where our ‘friends’ are virtual. Our Facebook friends watch vicariously as we post about life’s activities with both parties maintaining a safe emotional distance. No one invests in the lives of the other. How sad.
Such a pattern of life robs us of beauty and joy of relationships, both spiritual and natural. It leaves our heart buried in the quicksand of life. And when hard times hit, we may get a word fo encouragement tossed onto out Facebook feed….assuming you actually posted something to begin with. The Enemy’s scheme is to run us ragged, distant from one another, to keep us distracted from matters of the heart and bury us with “good” things so we miss the “best” things.
We must learn to say “no” and began to change how we live our lives. Scripture tells us that we are to seek God first for doing so allows everything else falls into its proper place. But it is up to the people’s willingness and I can assure you it requires effort…from each and every one of us to make a difference….to restore Community