Saturday, April 23, 2011

Titus' Cultural Convo

When M and I arrived in LA in 1996, we were simply not ready for what faced us. A minor reality in our defense was that we had been preparing ourselves to plant a church in Newport Beach when the call came, belatedly, for us to take over the captaincy from Jesse Mason in the Christian Chapel story. We had already handed over the reins of Glenridge but it was only 3 weeks before we flew out to our new faith chapter, that the goal posts changed.

However, we were not ready. We had an over realized passion for church structure and shape [ecclesiology], an under developed sense of the gospel [Christology] and were certainly not ready for the cultural and contextual realities that faced us. We had not done our homework. We were simply not sufficiently versed in the matters that were to face us. Therefore we simply took a working African tactic that we embarrassingly assumed would work again. I made so many mistakes in this conversation that drives me to equip others so that they do not do the same.

Paul equips Titus. In the apo father's preparation of his young leader, he must have briefed him more thoroughly. Here he revisits his counsel: Titus 1:10 - 16

1. Culture: by this I refer to the prevailing worldview that has shaped the community as a whole. Here we can read these ingredients by looking at language, family, arts, business, education, sports, politics — what is valued, honored, defended, celebrated, accepted in society — what is worshipped, who are the idols, what are the greatest priorities. So Paul gets Titus to see what he is facing culturally - as seen by the Cretans themselves:
i. Cretans are always liars, [describes their ethics]
ii. Evil beasts, [defines their morality]
iii. Lazy gluttons. [defends their industry]
[Any volunteers for this assignment?]

Whether we are going to "plant a church" [by establishing a gospel community] or "replant a church" [by taking a community that has a history into a new future] we need to take a chunky time to visit the cultural piece, engaging "their prophets" to hear what they are saying about themselves — both inside of the church as well as in the marketplace.
Some good cultural Q's to ask with your team:

1. When folks talk about your nation what are the generalities that they use? ... they are arrogant, or deceptive or racist...
2. What do folks say about your city? ... oh you live in LALA land...
3. What drives your city? Is it family, money, power, pretense, right schools...?
4. What does the city prioritize? The principalities and powers that sit behind the throne, will be evidenced in the decisions people make,
5. What songs, plays, poetry and movies does your city host, make?
6. What are the educational institutions known for? What is their message?
7. Where do folks have their third place-where they congregate and do life together? Talk around the ethnic / multicultural nature of the city... who can you reach as a church?
8. How do they view spiritual things?
9. What do they do with the poor?
10. Where and how do they spend their money?

Hope this is helpful... keep the cultural convo going. It does shape how we present the glorious gospel.

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