Engaging Culture - Tim Cooper, North Point Labs


From politics to sexuality, there are many topics where culture intersects with faith and opinions vary. How we think about these issues is as important as what e think about them. In this breakout, we will take you through how we gain volunteers to engage wit culture. We'll explore some root causes of existing cultural tensions and focus on how to walk alongside someone who has a viewpoint different than yours.

I. We have to decide if we really want to influence the culture we live in.

"If sincerity were the same thing as faithfulness, then all would be well..."
--James Davison Hunter, To Change The World

Churches have beliefs about what is true and right.
Culture also has beliefs about what is true and right.
When there are differences in those beliefs, gaps are created.
We navigate this tension in 3 ways:
Separate from the parts of culture we fear
Surrender to the parts of culture we enjoy
Engage with the parts of culture we want to influence

II. Our ability to influence culture is limited by our disgust toward it.

"Humans are most likely the only species that experiences disgust, and we seem to be the only one capable of loathing its own species."
--William Miller, The Anatomy of Disgust

--Richard Beck, Unclean

Disgust is a feeling of revulsion aroused by something unpleasant or offensive.
We are programmed to naturally move away from things that disgust us.
Disgust regulates a boundary between a person and the object of disgust.
Disgust becomes. Problem when we project it onto people.


III. To Over one disgust, we must intentionally move toward the messes.

Everyone has a moral circle.
We show kindness to our kind.
Try to expand your moral circle.

What is encouraging your leaders to press through their natural instinct to influence others who aren't their kind?

IV. Jesus modeled how to influence culture.

"The Pharisees seeking purity pull away from the sinners. Jesus, seeking fellowship, moves toward the sinners." --Richard Beck, Unclean

Jesus' ministry prompts us to define spirituality less in terms of religion and knowledge and more in terms of service and engagement.

Theology and knowledge are important.
Service and engagement are more important.
How well we love is of the utmost importance..

“As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector╩╝s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew╩╝s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.””
Matthew 9:9-13 NIV

Understanding the difference between sacrifice and mercy will help us love better.
Sacrifice is intentionally moving toward purity.
Mercy is embracing and intentionally moving toward what is difference.

V. Managing the tension between theology and ministry requires work.

Address core issues of the faith differently than peripheral ones.
Make church the safest place in the world to engage cultural issues.
Put conversations above policies.
Remember: you at the church.

Action Items:
Work to overcome disgust toward anyone.
Ask, "What does love require of me?"

Conclusion
How we educate volunteers to engage with and influence culture is one of the most important things we will try to do as a church. When our devotion to God is illustrated, demonstrated, and authenticated by our love for others, we make it possible to change our culture... and our world.

Table questions:
What does your church do to influence the culture around you?
What do you think is the responsibility of the church when it comes to influencing culture?