Windows on the Culture
Models for Christians
Who Want to Engage Their Culture
A Haunting Window I Recall
1. Exiles in a Pagan Culture
1. Exiles in a Pagan Land
• Engagement
– Tell dangerous stories.
– Offer dangerous criticism.
– Make dangerous
promises to the empire.
(Israeli exiles made the
empire better!)
– Sing dangerous songs.
Three Young Men in Furnace
11th Century
2. Post-Church Culture
2. Post-Church Culture
2. Post-Church Culture
• Engagement
– In preaching and teaching
emphasize vocation, 24/7
discipleship, understanding that
the pastor is a trainer and
equipper of insiders, but
increasingly not an insider himself.
– Be present where cultural insiders
work, struggle, and play. Make these
settings the “third places” of our lives.
– Present an authentic Christian
3. Postmodernism
Demolition of Pruitt-Igoe Housing Project, 1956-76
3. Postmodernism
3. Postmodernism
3. Postmodernism
"Surreal," 2009 Marcus A. Jansen
3. Postmodernism
• Engagement
– Present faith as both
cognitive and relational
(I believe that…; I believe in…)
– Present truth as with
personal conviction and
passion (Logos/Pathos/Ethos)
– Present Jesus Christ as the
– Own up to mystery.
Picasso, Weeping Woman
4. Mosaics
4. Mosaics
• Engagement
– Listen.
– Equip people to build genuine
friendships with Mosaics.
– Train spiritual mentors for one-onone relationships.
– Form learning communities in which
doubts can be expressed.
– Intentionally engage in e vents
which emphasize service, justice,
mercy, and care of God’s creation.
5. The New Gnosticism
Inner Light, Mathieu Boisne
5. The New Gnosticism
• Engagement
– Teach Sacramental realism, real divine
presence in the stuff of the earth.
– Get your hands dirty in acts of
service. Go incarnational.
– Use earthy, physical language for
the living out of faith.
– Present a fully human and fully
divine Jesus Christ.
– Teach a God who is outside ourselves.
– Take people beyond the present tense to
hope. Hope = faith + imagination.
Toward Greater Engagement
• As a church…
– Pray for your community and
its Christians.
– Ask your community what
they need from your church.
– Ask your second and third
generation inactive members
what they need from your
– Begin a progressive ministry of
Toward Greater Engagement
• As a church…
– Offer a variety of spiritual
pathways by which God gets
through to people with His Word.
Invite, train, and encourage
spiritual mentors.
– Measure your church’s contact
points outside its walls.
– Offer learning communities for
those with questions.
– Break open the icons of the
culture (Mars Hill, Acts 17).
Shotgun Third Ward, John Biggers, 1966
Toward Greater Engagement
• As a Christian…
– Pray for specific unchurched people you know.
– Make settings in which unchurched people live your
“third place.”
– Volunteer at the local school, hospital, food shelf, library, etc.
– Build caring relationships, earning
the right to share your faith.
– Practice your gospel presentation,
tailoring it to specific needs.
– Become a spiritual mentor or leader
of a learning community.