Monday, January 21, 2008

Approaches to Culture

There are perhaps three ways to deal with diverse cultures in a Church: 1. Deliberately celebrate cultural differences, 2. Level the Church to the same cultural norms, or 3. Erase culture as an issue in the Church. In the case of the first two, Charles van Engen (see photo) warns of “an over-emphasis on particularity” and “an over-emphasis on universality” (Van Engen C 1997:6,9). In our own Church, which has no majority cultural group, race and culture are essentially removed from our vocabulary. There is an understanding that culture is a servant of worship, and of our ministry to one another and the world. That is, what matters is worship and ministry, not the cultural expressions in which it is done. Thus cultural particularities are of little importance to us -- such as language, dress, or expressions of worship. QUESTION: Agreed? Or how about e.g. breastfeeding in the pews, Communist Party T-shirts in Church, or people entering the Church in drag? (all real examples from our experience).

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