There are two distinct cultures at work in every ministry. The culture within the church and that outside the church. These cultures are driven by two completely different worldviews.
One is constant and the other ever-changing. The culture within the church should be anchored in Scripture. But, the culture outside the church has no permanent mooring. It is driven by opinions, social agendas, politics and economics.The recent paradigm shifts in our culture have made us aware of this ever widening gap between the two. Not surprisingly, both of these want to control the other.
The Ground Is Fertile For The Gospel
In a sense the church should always to be counter-cultural. Since they are two distinct cultures, why should it be surprising when they don’t align? Why should they be expected to? The culture outside the church acts different, because it thinks different. It serves a different master and has different goals. Understanding these differences can create fertile ground for planting the seed of the gospel.
The Approach Is Everything
Some churches realize they are to be separate from the world, but fail to address cultural issues. Often they insolate themselves to the extent that they become inward facing and never reach their communities.
There are churches that try to become like the surrounding culture. They attempt to assimilate the two cultures, blur the distinctiveness of each and lose the transforming power of the gospel.
There are other churches that attack the culture. They isolate themselves and become defined more by what they are against rather than the gospel they should proclaim. But, people aren’t interested in listening to or joining the ranks of angry religious people. The life changing message of the gospel isn’t heard above the rants and rhetoric.
Finally, there are churches that don’t expect the culture to be like the church. They evangelize in their community with the gospel of Jesus Christ. They acknowledge and address the differences, maintain their distinctiveness and refuse to be angry or self-righteous. They know only God can change hearts and lives through the power of the gospel.
The Mission Is Simple
The mission is simple, it’s not to change the culture. The mission is to share the gospel and depend on it’s transforming power to change one individual at a time. If that results in changing a culture then so be it.