A Little Understanding – A Culturally Relevant Landscape and Décor

When you hear we need to make sure our church service is culturally relevant, be excited, but approach it with cautious optimism. Both the Christ follower and those who are trying to find out what this Christ following thing is all about understand everything in terms of the culture in which they live. This makes a culturally relevant church necessary. The problem only comes when cultural relevance becomes cultural dominance that dictates the message presented so that the ways of the world become the ways of the church…

…The balance/tension that we need…

…to maintain in the collective of Christ followers is between a culturally relevant (quality and style) presentation and a culturally unpopular message. Our goal is not to offend, but if the message is truly counter-cultural, it will be offensive. No matter how much the décor (presentation) fits into the culture, the message just cannot. Remember, the message in a nutshell is: you can’t make yourself into what you need to be, so Jesus did what you couldn’t. That goes against the culture that Satan has sold the world since he handed out fruit in the garden saying “you can be like God.” It is unacceptable to present the message in an offensive way, acting as if Christ followers are somehow better than everyone else. It is also unacceptable to present the message stripped down so that no one gets offended, replacing it with a great show and lovely feelings.

Jesus is the perfect example of the balance/tension required.

He told stories that used everyday life as metaphors for the message He was presenting. This may sound underwhelming to us living in a digital entertainment culture, but in His time, He was a curiosity: people wanted to see and hear this famous or infamous, depending on your point of view, Jesus guy. His must-see statuscoupled with His storytelling was a form of entertainment. If we look at His storytelling as an effective, polished presentation and His unwavering commitment to truth as an example of avoiding the staged house look, we get a glimpse of the tension/balance the collective of Christ followers require. His delivery was based on reaching the people in the culture while the message remained unaffected by their culture.

[Jesus]He called out the corrupt of that generation even if it meant less followers. He encouraged a deeper relationship with God in ways that went against the teachings of the religious leaders. He elevated those who were humble rather than pandering to those who thought highly of themselves. He was culturally relevant in the way He presented but counterculture in the message He presented, which in the end got Him killed.

If the décor is truly a tension between the message and the presentation…

…it will point toward God. It points to the one worth the effort it takes to use our talents and giftings fully so that we do church well. It points to the one whose word and love are the inspiration and support for everything we do. It points to the one who we look to for guidance, provision, empowerment, and protection. It points to the one the collective of Christ followers was created to represent. Actions that point to anyone or anything other than the one true God are not supposed to be a part of the way we do church.

When a décor is prepared for a photo shoot or a house showing…

…it does not point toward reality but instead a fantasy world that demands nothing of those who live in that space. Does the collective of Christ followers you belong to create the same fantasy world, one that demands nothing of those who occupy the seats when you do church? Why are some churches avoiding talking about the structure when it is essential to the stability of all who become followers of Christ? Why are they robbing Christ followers and those wondering what this Christ following thing is all about of the opportunity to hear the tough but rewarding truth about a life built on a rock foundation?

Fluffy, feel-good teaching with a name-it-and-claim-it theme won’t fill the refrigerator of the people who have lost their jobs, comfort those who have experienced sickness or death in their family, or offer peace during a worldwide pandemic. Slick, showy church services, whether online or in person, will not make people feel like God is in control and that He has a plan. Watering down the reality of our need to be different, to repent from our sin so that people will feel good, won’t fly when the pain and suffering all around can no longer be ignored. For some, being highly regarded, liked, and respected in the community while being considered hip and cool is more important than the offensive message of repentance and reliance on God.

When it comes to the landscape and décor…

…of the Christ follower and collective of Christ followers (evangelism and the way we conduct our church functions), it all comes down to this: what am I/are we leaving out of the message and why? If the answer is I/we don’t leave any specific thing out, the conversation or presentation goes where it goes at the leading of God, then you/your church are presenting your faith. If instead the answer is I/we don’t talk about certain topics because it may lower our chances of successfully getting the person to join our church, then you/your church are/is marketing your faith.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…” Romans 1:16 (NIV)

Communiuon and sermon start at 3:50

4 comments

  1. Been a long time Brother! Been trying to pick up what I missed after fighting for a year+ with neck cancer. The Chemo and Radiation kicked my behind but God has been gracious and after neck surgery I’m cancer free. Looking forward to your posts again! God bless!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great to hear of the power of God working in your life – welcome back – I am not as active in reading posts as I am in the middle of a Transitional Pastor job which take s most of my time and limited energy but i try to read when I can

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Brother, we DO what the Holy Spirit leads us to do. THAT is pleasing the Father! I’ll be checking back from time to time myself, so you just keep doing God’s work! 😉 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

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