MULTICULTURAL & #SundayChurchHacks: If you are reaching multiple cultures, then include in worship symbols/aesthetics from all cultures. Here a client church creates an “ancient-future” environment to make two cultures feel at home.

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Note the detail in the stained-glass windows above the minimalist depictions of buildings on the stage.

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Notice how the speaker dresses in a manner that can relate to multiple generations.  The older culture has expectations of dressing up to honor God, which usually in their culture includes a jacket.  Younger generations may synergize styles to create innovation, sometimes called aesthetic fashion.

CULTURE & Entertaining Videos on Cultural Time-warps #Multi-site #Multi-venue

by Bob Whitesel, 8/15/08

I’ve observed that people can get stuck in a “cultural time-warp” at the period when they experienced new birth and/or rapid spiritual growth. The result is that people connect music, styles, etc. associated with the time of their salvation/growth with “spiritually powerful” songs, styles, etc..  They feel the songs that impacted them, will always impact others.

And, this is normal but not beneficial. That is because the result can be that people will expect (and subtly require) others be touched by the same cultural songs, styles, etc. that they once enjoyed.

Here are some videos that can serve as an example.

Video A: The first was taken during the Jesus Movement of the late 60s and early 70s. I was saved at that time. And, this was how the ideal worship happened back then: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_kaEucoyNI

Video B: This next video is how Jesus Movement morphed into: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIgiNAB99T0&feature=related

Video C: Here now is an example of how worship can happen in the e-world of today: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaJ4A7mXJH8&feature=player_embedded

Which is better? How are they different?

Actually, A and C are very organic and much the same, only one eschewed technology (e.g. it is a cappella – which means “in the style of Medieval church music”) and the other relies on technology. As a person who has researched and experienced both the Jesus Movement and the Emerging Movement, I have pointed out that they are both very organic and similar (Inside the Organic Church, 2006, pp. xxiii-xxxiii).

The middle example (Video B) is what many Jesus Movement boomers grew to prefer. It is more event-orientated and resembles more of a concert format. For many boomers this could be their idea Sunday morning worship expression.

I think we would agree that these worship expressions are sometimes dissimilar, and at other times similar. And, that all three are valid, just for different people and different times. Thus, churches that are seeking to reach out to multiple cultures will want to have multiple worship expressions, so 2+ cultures can be reached. And, they may need to be at separate venues, for different cultures prefer different styles. When a church accommodates different cultural styles, it makes the church more inclusive, diverse and long-lived.

WORSHIP & Comparions of Ancient-style vs. Future-style

by Bob Whitesel from Inside the Organic Church: Learning from 12 emerging Congregations (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2006).

Figure: A Partial Comparison of Ancient-Future Elements[i]

Ancient-Future Orientation Fuses the Two Columns

Ancient Future
Liturgical Musicology: –   Hymns-   Chants, etc.-   Professional interpretation. –   Alternative music-   Drum circles, etc.-   Audience participation.
Ambiance: –   Candles-   Natural lighting –   Computerized images,-   Mood walls.
Iconography: –   Plain icons such as:

  • Ichthus symbol,
  • Chi Rho (Constantinian) cross.

–   Lavishly ornamented icons such as:

  • Celtic symbols and crosses,
  • Byzantine symbols and crosses.
–   Techno-icons such as:

  • Mars Hill’s Directions© signs,
  • And, St. Tom’s Lifeshapes©

–   Stylized icons, where artists interpret ancient symbols via modern artistic genres, e.g. multi-media, expressionism, surrealism, kinetic art, etc.

Truth Delivery: –   Presentation of the Word via sermonizing, pedagogy-   Intricate musical lyrics.-   Art, such as stained-glass windows, mosaics, sculpture, church architecture, banners/tapestries, drama, etc.-   Stations of the Cross –   Interaction with the Word via questioning, dialogue-   Native[ii] musical lyrics.-   Art, such as film, video, acting, design, poetry, dance, photography, pottery, visual arts, abstract art, kinetic art, mixed-mediums, etc.-   Interactive stations
Christ and Culture –   Christ Against Culture, [iii]) leads to monastic disciplines (e.g. Tertullian, St. Benedict:

  • Prayer grottos,
  • Prayer labyrinths.
  • Meditation,
  • Spiritual retreat.
–   Christ Above But Working Through Culture, [iv] leads to sifting culture where,

  • Some elements are judged,
  • Others reaffirmed,
  • For the transform-ation of the whole.[v]
Discipleship Ethos –   Monastic, “withdrawal from the institutions and societies of civilization.”[vi] –   Missional, with engagement and “dynamic equivalence.”[vii]

Footnotes:

[i] The chart is not meant to be exhaustive. It is presented here simply to give the reader a general direction of the ancient-future nexus. The elements of these columns will continue to evolve and adjust along with culture, experimentation, and effectiveness.

[ii] Native is a word I have introduced into the organic discussion due to a sense it conveys the duality of the organic church’s sentiments, where feelings of opposite extremes are acknowledged, and even expected as the result of humanity’s fall. Thus, native sums up the dual yet inborn nature of humanness, where emotional pairings such as the following contest with one another: e.g. faith-doubt, love-hatred, impartiality-prejudice, acceptance-alienation, community-isolation, exuberance-despondency, reassurance-apprehension, chance-predetermination, etc. Such human duality is often expressed in the organic church’s liturgy, songs and teachings; and has biblical precedence in the psalmists’ meditations, e.g. Psalm 12, 53, and 139 among others.

[iii] H. Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture, pp. 45-82.

[iv] Charles H. Kraft, Christ in Culture: A Study in Dynamic Biblical Theologizing in Cross-Cultural Perspective, pp. 113-115.

[v] Eddie Gibbs, I Believe in Church Growth, pp. 92-95, 120.

[vi] H. Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture, p. 56. It should be noted that I have not witnessed any societal withdrawal due to monastic tendencies in the organic church. Rather their monastic elements are primarily evident in spiritual disciplines, such as praying at the monastic hours.

[vii] Charles H. Kraft, Christ in Culture: A Study in Dynamic Biblical Theologizing in Cross-Cultural Perspective, pp. 315-327.