Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Below is a humorous video about how church culture can unintentionally confuse people who are not part of our church-going culture. Since most of our churches are trying to reach out to non-churchgoers, it is important that we look at our behaviors, ideas and products that can confuse (and even potentially turn off) people with whom we are trying to share the Good News.
I sometimes share this with my students at their residential. Now, I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be changed when Jesus saves us. We should.
But when we create an artificial culture we erect cultural barriers to people outside of that culture. This video gives a humorous way of looking at how, if we are not careful, our churches become confusing and irrelevant ‘church cultures.’
That is why newly planted churches often grow faster than older churches. New churches don’t have that Christian culture developed as strongly in them yet, and so unchurched people can relate more to them.
But, if they are not careful, even planted churches will eventually mutate into a separate ‘church culture.’ Now, you might think, ‘Well, we need to plant more churches.’ And, we do. But, if we don’t also help established churches from becoming disconnected ‘church cultures’ then the Devil will have succeeded in keeping us irrelevant to unchurched people.
Charles Kraft, in his book Christianity and Culture (1979) said that ‘the church has become a culture itself.’ Thus Eddie Gibbs said that church leaders must receive missionary training, to understand those outside of our culture and learn how to present Christ to them in culturally relevant ways that will not compromise the Good News (Church Next, 220). Kraft also warned that ‘cultural conversion’ is wrong, meaning missionaries are to convert others to their beliefs, not to their culture, for cultural conversion smacks of colonialism and empire-building (Christianity in Culture, 339). Rather, the Good News is ‘supra-cultural’ (Kraft 1979), meaning it is a way of holy living that is above culture. It changes culture, but it also (like Jesus in the incarnation) may take on non-sinful behavior, ideas or products … but without sinning.