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Models of Church and Culture: Entrenchment or Replication?

Chris Salzman

(Edit: I totally forgot to provide links to Josh's blog, sorry)

Josh Brown is running a series on the consumptive church that has generated some fantastic discussion. The latest post deals specifically with consumptive patterns in U.S. churches.

Here's part of his premise to give you some background:

1. There are two types of churches: those that integrate themselves into the surrounding culture and those attempting to create a subculture. Both operate under consumptive principles because both are reacting to a society built on consumptive principles. The former is trying to be a part of a larger consumptive culture and the latter trying to create its own.

2. "everything that we do and how we do it are just as theological as our doctrines and treatises. That our communities, architecture, spending patterns, meals, and politics, to name a few, are every bit as theological as our views on Jesus, the Trinity, salvation, the church, etc."

So taking that tact, we must ask questions like:

In that light, what does state of the art sound and lighting say about how we view God and people?

And an answer might be:

Could the “theology” be that we believe God needs a show and the audience needs to be entertained? That it’s less about the long-slow process of becoming like Christ and more about the big, marketed “WOW” factor?

Here's what I would like to discuss.

At the root of our problem is not our consumptive practices. But the lack of contentment that feeds them. And our discontent leads us to live in a culture that creates waste with temporary fads and transient products. ... In many ways this is why the christian culture is just as full of waste as the larger culture. The music is transient and has very little lasting power or is inherently good as a work of art. The architecture is transient and has very little lasting power or is inherently good as a work of art. The sermons are transient and have very little lasting power or are inherently good as a work of arts."

This idea of transient (or throw-away) culture drives what Josh calls, "The Religious Industrial Complex." Since we live in this culture and our main models of church are based around replication or entrenchment it is no wonder that U.S. Christianity looks this way. To my knowledge no church (or government for that matter) in the U.S. has been successful at manipulating the entirety of U.S. culture to Christ's standards.

Thoughts? Does your church actively fight against this mentality?

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