Engaging a Changing Culture with an Unchanging Message

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Engaging a Changing Culture with an Unchanging Message


It appears that Christians have lost what Ed Stetzer refers to as “the Christian’s home court advantage.”

In Stetzer’s post entitled “How We Lead in Times of Cultural Shift,” he names the Christian’s next challenge as a challenge of leadership.

How then shall we lead?

As our culture shifts, how are Christians to lead? Stetzer’s first suggestion is that Christians “stop fighting for the perception of cultural dominance that gives the appearance of success without the substance of Christian practice.”

Can we give up our perception of cultural dominance that gives the appearance of success?

Can we embrace the substance of Christian practice?

We can find a model for both in the New Testament, where Christian cultural dominance is unheard of and Christian practice abounds.

A shift in thinking

Stetzer writes that to accomplish these two things, “Christian leaders need to shift their thinking toward missional and evangelistic ends.”

We must rethink:

Our language. Stetzer’s advice is for Christian leaders to “become bilingual, demonstrating fluency in both the public sphere of secularism and the message of the Gospel of Jesus….speak[ing] prophetically from the margins, remaining faithful to Christian theology and practice while effectively translating the Gospel to the world around us.”

Our approach to American culture. Stetzer’s post details three approaches to culture: culture defenders, culture creators, and culture engagers. All three have a role, but I would agree with Stetzer that culture engagers will matter most.

These are leaders who “interpret culture as a missionary, prophetically speak into the public sphere, and testify to the gospel of Jesus as the true satisfaction for the deepest desires of the human heart.”

Signaling grace

These leaders, I propose, are signaling grace. As they interpret culture, they’re identifying the points at which daily life resonates with the Gospel.

They understand not only what is now but what is within; they speak both into and beyond these, to what will be.

May we be such leaders, engaging a changing culture, signaling grace that’s at the heart of the unchanging message.


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