April 15, 2015

On Church Growth: A Thought

The problem is not that the church isn't counter-cultural enough. The problem is that the church is thoroughly encultured to a culture of fifty to a hundred years ago. Relating to people in their cultural present, out of the depths of eternal truths, seems a better course, but it is one to which the institutional body seems hard-pressed to bend.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

2 comments:

thomas bushnell, bsg said...

I mean, I agree and all, but...

that's just so screamingly a baby-boomer way to put it...

I think the Gen-Xer knee-jerk is that it might be more important that we relate to people with authenticity than that we relate to them in their cultural present.

Nothing was more funny in my twenties than baby-boomers desperately trying to be relevant to my cultural present in a hugely inauthentic manner.

So yes, speaking to the cultural present is important, but being authentically *who one is*, and not trying to hide or conceal it as the price of speaking to the other is an essential starting place.

Consider the Star Trek episode "The Way to Eden" in which Kirk, a/k/a Herbert, is totally authentic, but derided as irrelevant to the hippies. Very baby boomer concerns being worked out.

Now consider The Breakfast Club or Some Kind of Wonderful, in which being authentically oneself - even when that's a totally oddball thing - is admired, but only if it's real and not pretense.

Jon Stewart and Larry Wilmer? Focused on skewering hypocrisy and keeping it 100% real, as the *entry condition* to any discussion.

So dare I say it:

The problem isn't that the church isn't counter-cultural enough. The problem is that the church is unaware of its identity and shifts its self-understanding and self-presentation with the wind, operating out of little authentic core in an attempt to be appealing to the other. Relating to people out of one's own integrity, connected and grounded in eternal truths, seems a better course.

Tobias Haller said...

Not sure I see what I'm saying as different from what you intend here. The issue is authenticity of message; the culture of the present is simply reality, and it is crucial to be engaged with reality. I agree there is nothing worse than an oldster trying to be trendy; and not just because they usually get the trend wrong, and they aren't dealing either with the reality of the present, or the depth of the gospel, but some issue of packaging that is neither.