I am in the midst of a sermon series on Culture Shift. And the focus is not so much on the changing culture which surrounds the church — whether we think it’s going to “hell in a handbasket” or we’re on a progressive march to the future — but on the culture shift needed within the church. But one of the changes needed in the church is to recognize that the culture around us IS different and will require us to reach out to it in different ways.
How has culture changed? Well, for starters, we can’t assume that people are going to be lining up at our doors to come to church as soon as we open them. People will relate to church differently than they will in the past.
I needed a different imagination for what it means to be a church in a community and what it means to lead in such a church. One of the things this growing realization meant was that it would be possible to be a faithful community of God’s people only by reengaging the neighborhoods and communities where we live and learning to ask what was happening among the people of the neighborhood, attending to their stories, and cultivating receptiveness to being surprised by what God might already be up to among all these people who aren’t thinking about church or even God.
We can’t think that God is somehow only present in the walls of the church and is inactive outside of it. We need to realize that our God is a big God and is working in new and surprising ways. And we can only see that if we start looking at our neighbors and asking about their experiences.