What are we supposed to do about culture?
Ed Stetzer explains three ways evangelicals can expect to be involved with culture in the years to come (“3 Ways Christians Will Address Cultural Issues in the Coming Years,” Christianity Today, March 6, 2015).
Some will engage culture, trying to equip Christians for more winsome involvement with people via their cultural interests. Some will defend culture, speaking out loudly (and sometimes shrilly) on matters of morality and freedom. Others will create culture, as in film and music, to express Christian views and values without necessarily including the overt Christian message.
Mr. Stetzer’s analysis is helpful, but inadequate as a guide to equipping the saints for a Kingdom approach to culture. His view suggests that culture matters are the calling of certain groups or people who are involved with culture in formal and public ways. His approach to Christian cultural engagement, in other words, is for leaders and ministries, but not for the community of believers as a whole.
We need a bigger and more all-inclusive vision than this. For the Christian community to begin maximizing culture for the glory of God and human and creational good, we need a much fuller view of culture than this.
The members of the Christian community must learn how to consume culture as good stewards of God’s resources; to function as critics of culture, pointing out and avoiding what is troubling and celebrating and sharing what is good; to create culture of all kinds, especially everyday culture (language, manners, work); to conserve culture and pass it on to the next generation, especially our great heritage of Christian culture (concerning which most Christians remain woefully ignorant); and to converse about culture meaningfully and in an edifying manner.
These are tasks for all Christians to master, not just the few who are interested in culture and culture matters, or who happen to work for organizations or ministries with a cultural focus.