It is time once again to continue my comments on Mark Driscoll’s Radical Reformission. I must say, again, that I enjoyed Confessions of a Reformission Rev. much more. Driscoll was in rare form in that one; but this book has its moments.
Chapter 5 – entitled “Going to Seminary at the Grocery Store” – is an exploration of the myths that are perpetuated about culture by Christian groups. Since the entire book is about being a part of culture, this was an interesting review of the reasons we reject culture.
Myth #1 – Culture and wordliness are the same thing
Contrary to what must Christians are taught, a culture is not the same thing as worldliness. A culture is simply the way a group of people are together. Worldliness, however, is the sum total of the effect of sin on that culture. It sometimes looks different in different cultures (cultural sin versus universal sin) but it is not the same as culture.
There is a danger in ministry of not seeing worldliness in culture. This results in theological irrelevance because we basically just become hollow echoes of the worst parts of culture. We must be aware of sin and aware of the standard of righteousness – Jesus.
But the greater danger is to believe all of a culture is bad and determine to eradicate it in favor of a “Christian” culture. Cultures exist because of the diversity God caused at Babel; and while they may not be the best situation, they are the only situation we have to deal with.
Myth #2 – Garbage In, Garbage Out
Many Christian ministries attempt to isolate themselves from “worldly” influences in order to stay pure. The assumption is that if you are around something, you will want to do it. This might be true for the weak-willed (and whether the vast majority of people in churches are weak-willed is a discussion for another time) but for people with half-a-brain, I like to think we are not necessarily that stupid.
Listening to only Christian voices will make us deaf to the cries of the world that needs what we have. We must be aware of what is happening, not from the outside but from the inside. We need to know music, literature, cultural shifts and things like that. It doesn’t hurt us to be aware of things because it shows us where the needs are.
Stay close to Jesus and you can walk among the world. Sometimes I think we base our Christian lives on our own abilities to attain holiness rather than our love for Jesus.
Myth #3 – Builders, Boomers, and Busters
Ah, the generation thing… Since I was a child, I was told that I was a Gen X’er or a Buster. I did not know what that meant other than that my parents were hippies and most of the kids my age were aborted before they were born. Apparently, the whole generation thing is actually quite a bit of fluff written by some obscure Canadian statistician.
The reality is that culture is cross-generational. I would go so far as to say that designing ministries for individual age groups is as ridiculous as marketing shoes by sizes. You try to sell different shoes in many sizes – you can’t be so exclusive because everyone needs shoes. The same is true of the gospel – everyone needs it, so it must present itself to everyone, not just exclusive groups.
So, that is Driscoll’s main ideas in chapter 5. He essentially calls us to expel these myths from our thinking and focus instead on the mission Jesus gave us. I liked it. It was simple and direct.