Engaging Community

Well, that’s the answer to my question… The “good news” of the Christian faith finds relevance through the work of the “engaging community.” Here is what I mean:

Engaging

Speaking on the topic of “creative persuasion,” Os Guinness made an intriguing observation about Christianity in North America. While much of the cultural advancement occurs in the major city centers, specifically New York and L.A., Christianity has tended to gather itself primarily in the more rural centers of America, often dislocated from the major cultural frontrunners. It makes sense, then, that the Christian faith is viewed as irrelevant when the loudest voices come from the countryside, often disengaged with the social urban and global context in which the issues they debate arise. What would these cultural centers look like if Christianity’s voice, while still maintaining a distinct message, didn’t literally come from the wilderness? The example that Guinness gave was Hollywood, as he pointed out the dire need for meaning and depth in the film and entertainment culture.

Community

The difficulty with the engaging motif is that by itself it can simply morph into another aspect of secular culture. Therefore, only with a distinct understanding of the faith community can Christianity be engaging. Here is where I think Stanley Hauerwas is on the right track for any sort of relevant cultural engagement. He says that “the church must recognize that her first social task in any society is to be herself.” Obviously this statement leads to the question of what it means to be the church (for another time…). But the point is that Christians need to be themselves: A community of faith rooted in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. How this looks is going to vary, but to drop this historically particular fact of the Christian faith eliminates the relevance of the Christian message on the basis that it is no longer the Christian message, simply becoming a moral ethic or spiritual mysticism. While these things aren’t bad, on their own they only represent part of the complete message of the “good news.”

Engaging Community

I will admit there is some tension in these two sides of my definition. However, without this tension, there is the danger of moving towards one extreme or the other. This is a concept I am still working through and trying to understand as I consider my faith and life in this world. This approach to evangelism must creatively engage the world from a particular place of reference.

I know I’m young, and the practicalities of my optimistic view of church may never be fully realized, but this doesn’t stop me exploring the possibilities of how the message of hope Christians have can influence this world for the better.

Some may call me naïve, unrealistic, or conservative, but I’d prefer hopeful…

2 comments:

Myron said...

I like your posts. Keep blogging.

--Myron

dwark said...

Thanks!

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