Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Local Culture and the Church

From an interview:

I believe the church works with three cultures. It works with a national culture such as the boomer, buster or builder generations. It also works with its own unique church culture. Finally, the church works with the local culture. Whether it's a Lutheran culture of Minnesota, a Southern Baptist culture of Atlanta, or an ungodly pagan culture of San Francisco, every church has its own local culture.

I'm convinced understanding your local culture is more important than knowing about your national culture. I'm working in Northern California, which includes churches in Marin County, Napa County, Vallejo, and churches down in the San Joaquin Valley. Those local cultures are as different as night and day. What attracts some people in one culture turns off other people in a different culture. I find that most pastors and churches have no understanding of the local culture in which they live.

In terms of exegeting culture, how does this impact the way you actually go about preaching a sermon?

I tell stories of how we're going to touch our world; specifically the world in which the church finds itself. I want to make clear that what we may be doing here in Minneapolis is only going to work in Minneapolis, and here's why. You can walk up to an atheist on the street in Minneapolis and ask, "What religion are you?" and they're going to tell you, "Lutheran," because it's almost an ethnic thing. That's one of the reasons why we're going to have a traditional service.

Suppose you carry this over to communicating vision in Minneapolis. While preaching about worship and music I'd remind people that we're doing a traditional service not because people here like to sing the old hymns, but because we want to reach un-churched Lutherans. This is Paul saying when I'm with the Jews I'm like a Jew, and when I'm with the Lutherans I'm like a Lutheran.

I want people to know that whether it's the issue of worship, music, the way we do outreach, or why we're communicating the vision we do, its determined not only by boomers, busters and builders, but also by local cultural issues.
Paul Borden HT: John Mark Ministries

Really good article on a lot of issues confronting the local church and its pastors. Read it all.

How would an outlook like that of Borden's affect what we do here at New Hope? Or what you do where you work for Jesus?

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