Thursday, June 15, 2006

Culture piracy

Copia Originale, by Torephoto
Weeks ago I was talking with a group of friends about issues regarding emerging church and church culture. One of the guys was complaining about how church most of the times goes after culture and ends copying what culture presents instead of setting new patterns for culture, he explained mostly with musical examples.
That made me think: How to spread the gospel and become really relevant to cuture?
Beggining with Paul, (at I Co 9:19-23 NIV , but more conclusive at The Message) we started to think about strategies to reach people of other cultures, and in order to be relevant to their cultures, we started to state a kind of missionary approach:
  • go to places where we can assess culture,

  • get what are relevant to them,

  • apply message to culture elements risen

  • and launch the efforts to present Gospel with the culture elements of people in order to make them understand our message,

  • isn't that right?

    Sometimes not so much! Those items can become too summarized when we insert lens to the process. Things are not so simple. The thing is how we get cultural elements to become relevant to the culture?
    And my answer came when I could recognize the difference between copying cultural elements and diving into culture.
    Long ago a pastor was planning to preach at a kind of neighbor and told me that we should learn how to play samba as they liked, the thing was that we didn't like samba as the neighbors liked (not allbody in Brazil likes samba), if we rehearsed some samba music or compose some samba the results should be a disaster, mostly because it would lack authenticity.
    And this is the big ingredient that makes the difference when thinking about relevance, we have screwed up lots of thinks when we went to people thinking about spreading the gospel to them but thinking about them as targets, going to them with second thoughts. This is the danger of friendship evangelism, because you think first about evangelize and thinking about being friend in order to get very well impressed and to make them accept Jesus as saviour. Authenticity lacks here, if your friend does not accept your message, would you abandon him and go after another target?
    Unfortunately, these kind of urgency approach made us pirates with piracy music, piracy friendship and piracy culture. The music is not so real, its our music in another style, the art is not real, it's message without core.
    In this talk, a pastor quoted Francis Shaeffer when told that unfortunataly, church has been had a very utilitarian use of art, which has made them lack this so need authenticity. Art is expression, not strategy.
    I have learned that diving into culture requires a though job harder than just copying elements of culture. A more authentic approach makes you walk among people, learn with them, getting interest about them and present the difference of Jesus Chirst that applies to any culture.

    Originally posted at Dream Awakener

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    1 comment:

    Panda said...

    Hi Luis!
    I do hope that you are still reading comments on 'older' postings... It is good to find a Brazilian brother in blogosphere who is writing in English so that I can understand his words! I am a Christian blogger from the Netherlands. Just wanted to ask you whether you are familiar with Steve Turner's book IMAGINE : A Vision for Christians in the Arts. Steve Turner was a student at L'Abri, a community founded by Dr. Francis Schaeffer. Steve is a poet and a writer - maybe you've heard about him (well-known book: Hungry for Heaven, but he also wrote about U2). Anyway, just wanted to recommend this IMAGINE book to you, because of what you are writing in this post. I am a publisher and I published the Dutch edition of the book. Blessings from the Netherlands! And yes - I like Brazilian football too (especially when the players are showing their JESUS LOVES YOU shirts).
    Have a look here at 2 old postings on my blog:
    and here: