A message within a context

There’s a lot of (legitimate and needed) conversation about how church should be “native” to its culture. We have many different types of cultures even within America, and one of the pastor/church planter/leadership team’s jobs should be to seek and pray about how the Kingdom of God can be expressed within that culture.

But a lot of times, this talk of “contextualization” ends up being talk of how to do the coolest or most trendy church. There’s a place for super small churches that meet in bars and mega gatherings with rockin’ bands. In that environment, it’s easy to start looking outward and seeking a different type of approval. The biggest test of God’s call may be this: are you willing to serve in a context that’s relevant and fruitful but isn’t labeled as cool and cutting edge?

2 responses to “A message within a context”

  1. Good post. I think another alternative that isn’t expressed enough is the idea of Christians just meeting together regularly. That, too, is the church. I wish the word church didn’t automatically carry with it the conotation of an organization. Yes it is an organism, but I don’t think it has to be an organization. Christians friends just meeting together to share scripture, pray for each other, provide for each other’s needs, and sing praise isn’t very cool, but it can be very powerful.

  2. You’re right, John. There are some great house churches out there. I work with small groups right now, and I fully believe they’re the base and core of the church. If people had to choose between a small group and a “Sunday service” I’d say put the group first (although that’s not very political!). They’re where life is lived out, where connection is made, and where transformation often hapens.

    I hope to one day start a community that’s cell-based, but also has some kind of corporate expression. Here’s why I think both are important…

    – It’s easy for a traditional church to become inward focused, but many house church models fall into the same trap. Having a network, or a larger identity and vision, helps the whole hold the pieces accountable to the “mission” side of our call. We need to not only be connecting with God and each other, we need to engage society – through serving and through sharing – as individuals and a group.

    – The shared resources also allow work to be done on a global scale – so the group can focus globally and locally.

    – The book The Search to Belong does a great job talking about different spheres of belonging. We often need both the deeply personal and more “public” relationships. Having a larger identity outside of the house group allows people to connect in different ways.

    – It’s a chance to gather, worship, and still have some teaching. I may be old-fashioned here, but I still believe some are called to teach, etc. And we can all benefit when those people exercise their gifts. I’m glad some choose to spend their time teaching so others can spend their time outside of the church – focused on people who need to see Christ.

    – It’s my call and passion. Yeah, that one’s subjective. But I believe God calls people – based on who he’s made them to be – to a people, a place, and a work. We aren’t all called to the same thing, which is why I get excited about all sorts of “types” of church. Are some more effective in certain contexts and maybe even more kingdom-focused? Yes. But God’s using a lot of different styles.

    Just a few off the cuff thoughts. A long way of saying yeah. I agree with you. Great thoughts. 🙂

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