We’ve had a lot of conversations at our Service Programming meetings (where we plan the weekend services) about what elements to include in our weekend services. I’ve also got a dialogue going with several friends who are not nearly as comfortable engaging culture.
Here’s the kind of discussions we’re having. For our heaven and hell series coming up in August (calling it Stairway to Heaven/Highway to Hell) we’ve already scratched doing Highway to Hell live, only because we weren’t sure it was appropriate. This line put us over the edge: Hey satan, payed my dues/playing in a rocking band/Hey momma, look at me/I’m on my way to the promised land. So even though we titled the sermon that way, we’re not going to use the song intact (we may mangle it or play with it a bit somehow). It pushes us out a bit far as Jesus-followers, we thought. But we are firmly committed to engaging culture to reach the culture.
Some Christians are definitely in the camp of "all culture is bad". But I just can’t live in an antiseptic bubble where everything is filtered out. The line many of us quote most often in the Bible says God loves the world, but you’d never know it the way many Christ-followers live.
A lot of mainstream music is sugar sweet pop or a blatant celebration of sin, but a lot isn’t. It all tells us something about the longings of the human heart and the issues people are really struggling with. Take Coldplay’s new CD, for example. The lyrics of a song like Yes or Cemeteries of London. The fact that artists (musical and novelists and so many more) are asking theological questions should make leaders sit up and take notice. God is on their agenda. We’re not, but shouldn’t we be?
Similarly, with things like doing tattoos during a service and handing out chocolate as an illustration tied to sex before marriage, we’re trying to make ties between everyday life and culture. Because God is about making the link between life and culture.
I know most of the people who read this blog engage culture deeply. I’m sure some are not quite as convinced. What are your boundaries? What works for you, doesn’t work for you? What engages you? What connects?