Culture and Contextualization
Culture is an umbrella term that encompasses the social behavior and norms found in human societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, customs, and habits of the individuals in these groups. According to the lecture notes, culture is what we make of it. On the other hand, the Church is a group of people within society that the Lord has saved for His purposes. Ephesians 1:5 says, “He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will.” The church is made up of Bible-believing followers of Christ. There is a unique relationship between the westernized Church and the westernized culture of today. There are ways in which the church and culture agree and many ways in which they do not agree. Living in westernized culture, a lot of what is uplifted in our culture is art, music, and self-happiness. Unfortunately, many churches have adopted the idea that says, the church has to sound like and look like the culture in order to bring in non-believers. I think this type of thinking is very unbiblical. Three ways that the church impacts the culture and vice versa is through our music, outreach, and our testimony.
Music is a concept that every culture can relate to on some level. Music is a tool that the Lord gave to us for our enjoyment and for His glory. Music can communicate things that words can’t fully and effectively articulate. Music impacts the church and culture by immediately striking at the heart of a person. In many ways’ music is its own language. The culture has greatly impacted the Church through its music. The genres of pop, rock, and rap have musically impacted the church. Musically, I don’t think this is a bad thing. However, when considering the lyrics of some church songs I hear today, it can be dangerous. Recently, I’ve noticed that church music is starting to sound like secular music. There are ancient songs and hymns that the historical church has passed down to us. Many of these songs have been replaced by popular but heretical songs today. The culture has been influenced by the church through the music the church presents. Many of the well-known churches have produced music that’s attractive to the non-believer. For example, Bethel music has produced some music that’s not about God. Nonbelievers can listen to these songs and not have a problem with it.
Outreach and evangelism communicate love and care for those in the community. The church is called to be a light and to be the salt of the earth. Christ’s church is the salt of the earth. It is the Lord’s preserve and the Lord’s preservative. Matthew 5:13 says, “You are the salt of the earth.” My home church in many ways has given and served our communities in good times and bad times. What we’ve learned is that often times when people go through hard situations, they’re simply looking for support and care from others. My church has been blessed to support and care for others outside of the church when tragedy hits. There was once a child in the community who tragically lost his life and the mom had nothing. My church stepped up to pay for the funeral and support the family while showing the love of God all at once.
The Church impacts the culture by the word of their testimony. We proclaim the gospel of Jesus as much as we can, and we strive to live what we proclaim. Often times our testimony of Jesus can affect the culture. In fact, it's solely the preaching of the gospel that draws people into a deeper understanding of God. This gospel of Jesus Christ is all over our culture despite the heavy misrepresentation or even rejection of it by sinful and prideful men. However, by the Saint's proclamation of the gospel and God’s power, the culture can be transformed. During corporate worship, the gospel should be preached throughout the songs and throughout the other parts of the service. The relationship between the Church and culture is one that is constantly changing.