pop goes the church

just finished a book. i have to confess, this is the first book i’ve finished of the last five that i started, maybe that’s because i’m doing absolutely nothing this week. finishing a book is a good feeling.

i picked up Tim Stevens’ new book, “pop goes the church: should the church engage pop culture?” Tim has a heart for churches everywhere to have an irreplaceable value in the communities they are a part of. Tim’s case is that all over the bible, Jesus and Paul (and others) made it a point to engage and leverage the cultures they lived in to reach the people around them with the truth of God. they quoted secular poets and were familiar with the songwriters of the day. for the church to have the most impact today, it needs to likewise learn to effectively speak in the language of the culture it lives in. Tim’s case isn’t all that new, but it is an important one that needs to constantly be considered by churches who hope to reach the people around them. as he says, much of the disdain and disinterest that people feel toward christianity today is due to churches losing their ability to do this, making them altogether irrelevant. Tim shares from his experiences, specifically as a pastor at granger community church in south bend, indiana.

it’d be a mistake to assume from the title that Tim is really posing a question of whether or not the church should engage pop culture. his book is not a discussion of it — it’s a passionate case for it. as i read it, i kept waiting for the view from the other side. as someone who agrees with most of what Tim is saying, i may need to hear the criticism or caution on this topic that i know is out there. while Tim doesn’t go there directly, he does weave in some caution of why and how churches mishandle pop culture.

i agree with most of his stuff and appreciate his challenges. he presents a great case for something that many church people probably feel but haven’t known how to justify or accomplish. and he gives church people who disagree with him some things to heavily consider. where i still struggle:

1) Jesus and Paul leveraged culture in their ministries — for sure. however, are we guilty of confusing pop culture for culture too often?
2) Tim’s case leads to a discussion that is mostly confined to weekend church services and sermon series (something his church does exceptionally well). how can we make this important discussion bigger than sermon series? 
3) how can we do more as a church to ensure that culture and relevancy are tools and not the point?

every church has an attitude toward culture. when it comes to culture, do you think it is the responsibility of the church to —
   police it?
   rebel against it?

   imitate it?
   ignore it?
   criticize it?
   condemn it?
   isolate itself from it?
   redeem it?
   engage it?
   leverage it? …

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~ by bradherndon on April 24, 2008.

One Response to “pop goes the church”

  1. The question isn’t should we engage pop culture – it’s how. I think it starts with the heart (surprise, I know) – as the church is people and people is what will make the difference.

    We need to cultivate (or ask God to) a heart of openness, integrity and generosity and then allow that to rub off on everyone you meet. We need to keep in our minds that every person you lay eyes on is immeasurably valuable in God’s eyes because He sent His Son for each and every one of us.

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