Thursday, November 13, 2008

Capturing Church Culture Crap

This is a great depiction of the surface-level aspects of the nebulous "Church culture" concept we talk about from time to time in the King's Bridge community. Church culture is something we've attempted to deconstruct, and then, for the most part, reject.

Sadly, the church consulting organization that created the video really seems to embody a lot of the deeper-level church culture crap I find frustrating: church growth focus (#s rather than relationship), western-capitalist success models, come-to-us orientation (rather than releasing the church out into the community-at-large), lack-of-social-justice concern and a buy-our-book ad to top it off. They're focussed on re-branding but I personally think the "product" itself needs a top-to-bottom redesign. In fact, it may need to become a completely different "product" (I shudder every time I type the word "product" to describe the church.).

I think the choice of Starbucks as the subject of the analogy really says it all. I rarely enter a Starbucks, and when I do I feel a little dirty. But the analogy works because it assumes that Starbucks is a great embodiment of user-friendliness, cultural approachability and personal belonging. Of course, for many people it is all of these things. But not for homeless people, eco-hippies, someone who doesn't want to fight for a comfy-seat or people who don't know how to pronounce "vente."

I guess when it comes down to it, I think the church should be subverting many aspects of the culture at large. In my charismatic fundamentalist past, this meant being counter-cultural ... which really just meant replacing mainstream entertainment with cheesy, sanitized Christian equivalents. That was a miserable failure. Subversion goes a lot deeper than this: It means embracing popular cultural icons and engaging the deeper areas of western corruption using it's own language. It means embracing the culture-at-large in many ways, and embracing people-at-large in even more ways. It means infecting the culture, spreading through it, growing organically without central-control and allowing transformation to happen from the inside out. It means recognizing that Christianity as a movement has survived and thrived for two thousand years, but no single institutional embodiment of it has (no - not even the Catholic church - but that's another day's argument).

Whew ... all I meant to do was post this little video, not spew a rant.

Thus endeth the rant.

1 comment:

sam said...

I dunno, I just dunno about the church as a 'body', as a separate entity, as a member of culture, as concept that missed the boat, or as something that can be modified and made relevant, or just made up of people that are that way anyway and are finally stepping out and expressing themselves. I just dunno anymore.