Rethinking the Gospel Message

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There are important cultural realities the church must understand related to how the culture communicates, dresses, values music styles, and other aspects. The church must understand, inhabit, and incarnate ecclesiastical methods that connect to the culture. Throughout history, Christianity has had an almost limitless ability to harness its message to nearly every facet of popular culture. If there is a song to be co-opted, a style to be transformed, a ministry will seek to do just that.

Two distinct groups seem readily engaged in this sociological response: those churches that revamp their services with relevant cultural tools, and those who have broken with the modern church and create new ecclesiastical forms in their own spaces. The two groups value cultural relevancy toward postmodern culture, and lack the means to communicate the message in relevant ways.

Os Guinness discusses these issues in an interview:

Whether though creating trendy worship services, writing books about how Christ can be seen in current movies, or mirroring hot bands playing on MTV, Christians often try to make their faith more culturally relevant. But Os Guinness says that this desire to be fashionable is exactly why Christians are now becoming marginalized. In a lecture for the C.S. Lewis Institute in 2002, he said that the only thing that is always relevant is the Gospel.

It appears that the gospel is often the one thing Christians and the church are afraid to rethink for the postmodern culture. So many current emerging church books discuss contextualization, culture, and being missional, but lack a section on rethinking the content of the message they wish to communicate.

The church’s repackaging of the same message through new media communicates the same message, and postmodern cultural proponents are unable to access or accept it. It is a message that postmodern people cannot interpret, understand, or integrate into their worldview.

As a result, the church has discovered that no amount of liturgical change connects it better with postmodern thinkers. The church can abandon Sunday services, preaching, and teaching, and it can re-package church with candles, liturgy, video jockeys, and modern technology, but people still see and hear the largely unchanged message. The church must rethink its theology and message content to connect to the postmodern culture. More from me on this in some later posts.