In a presentation with our church staff I was asked the key difference between Portland and the Tri-Cities and I said culture. I think our context in Eastern Washington is unique – certainly compared to the communities I have called home. When I say the culture is different I do mean the food, entertainment and arts in the community but I also mean the attitudes and the aspirations. What we live for shapes our culture. What we expect our children to do shapes the culture. And here it is different that most of the urban settings I have lived in.
The key is that having a different culture is not a bad thing. It is actually exciting for me because I have to figure out ministry in a new context. But we must realize that we are not in Seattle and things that are “successful” there might not be here.
At the same time however, the church must be about culture creation. We have to be the ones living counter-culturally to influence our communities and glorify Christ. This is why it is important to know your culture, so you shape it as you live differently.
Mark Miller over at Echo Hub has an article about being cultural pioneers and it is a good call to Christians everywhere. Miller says we need to answer three questions when we think of being cultural pioneers; 1) What culture are you spreading? 2) Are you pioneering? 3)Are you counter-cultural?
Once we realize that we are either spreading or copying culture then we can determine how we might pioneer – what we might take on to influence our world – and live out our faith. “or believers of Jesus, pioneering means being counter-cultural, leading in a way that turns conventional thinking upside down. Are you living the counter cultural teachings of Jesus? ” Let’s be people who can answer this question well.