Thursday, April 09, 2009

Redeeming Culture

Last Saturday, I had the privilege to attend the Entrepreneurship Initiative (EI) Forum hosted by the Redeemer Center for Faith & Work (CFW). CFW's mission is to promote cultural renewal through the integration of faith and work. Through the EI Forum, I had an opportunity to meet several Christian entrepreneurs, executives, financiers and artists who are seeking to make a difference through their God given gifts and talents.

The event was kicked off by Andy Crouch, author of Culture Making. His big point was simply this - you don't change culture by critiquing culture or condemning culture or consuming culture. You change culture by making culture.

Simple but profound. If you buy off on his premise, it really highlights a huge limitation with the state of Christian activism today. It would appear that a lot of energy is expended to generating more boycotts of certain companies rather than building businesses that make a positive impact. Many Christians are swept up with concern about the anti-Christian bias in media rather than about developing new creative content that reflects the glory of the Eternal God.

Creating culture, not just consuming it or condemning it - that's how culture changes.

Do you agree? Is changing culture even something Christians should be concerned with? What do you think?


Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

I like this approach much better!! I'd love to find a job that has this mindset!

Thanks for the wedding comments - it was a great weekend and I'm looking forward to having them back from their honeymoon for Easter!

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes, I agree with you and Susan. This is better. The kingdom of God in Jesus is not from this world, but it's in the world to impact it, and eventually all will be made new in Jesus. And that's to begin in our work as the church, now. So we need to work at this.

I do think we do have to critique culture, but the best way to do that is to seek to be living out the solution.

Sam Van Eman said...

Glad you got to go. Are you a part of Redeemer's Center for Faith and Work?

I met Andy in February at the Jubilee Conference and really enjoyed a breakout session he gave.

Of course, thinking about making culture - something I support - reminds me that I am most often a critic, especially when it comes to popular advertising.

I'm okay with this, but I do need to take on more of the two-pronged role of the prophet: critic + messenger of hope. One who points out what's wrong + promotes what's new. One who criticizes + makes.

I think both are necessary.

Every Square Inch said...

Susan - maybe you'll bring the mindset to the job - perhaps you'll be the agent of change

Ted - I agree that we have to critique culture at some point but I think we'll be better heard if we're participating in culture by making it

Sam - I am not part of Redeemer's CFW - I was just attending the seminar. I had a brief opportunity to chat with Andy Crouch about how the participation in making culture actually gives us the right to criticize culture. Otherwise, we're just standing on the sidelines, hurling stones. From what little I know of you, you're not doing that - you're actually making things happen.

Sam Van Eman said...

Yeah, it doesn't pay to play the cynic only. I try to be part of the solution, but my default is to point out what's wrong.

I'll keep working toward better balance.

Jimmy said...

i like Ted's last sentence -- critique should be connected to solutions. it is so easy to sit and critique and comment, which for me just leads to complaining and then my eyes are not on Christ but the world. so, i like the encouragement to be looking for ways of that honor God and create a Christian culture.
i also agree with this approach of creating culture. in one sense it seems to me that it comes down to living out the Christian life without compromise and for others there is a bigger role of creating media and businesses that run cross current to the norm. the folks that produced the movie "Fire Proof" would be an example. i think in many ways maybe we need this kind of "pioneer spirit" (powered by the Holy Spirit) because there is so much risk involved in doing things different. And yet, is that not what Christ did, and Paul did and many others -- bring Christ into their part of the world. Lord, i pray for grace, faith and courage to bring Christ into the part of the culture i live and work in.

Every Square Inch said...

Jimmy - thanks for your insightful comments. I like what you said about the "pioneer spirit"... I think of it as God inspired initiative that will lead us to act upon the dreams that God gives us. And, yes, there will be a measure of risk taking involved but who is better positioned to take risks that those who are redeemed by, and for God

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

Happy Easter ESI! He is RISEN!

Every Square Inch said...

Susan - happy Easter to you and your family

Marcus Goodyear said...

Great comments. I wish I could have gone with you ESI. Andy Crouch is a good thinker. I highly recommend Culture Making if you get a chance to read it.

I like what Ted said. There's always a place for critique, but Andy's point is that critique is derivative by definition.

Fifty years from now, we won't remember Roger Ebert's review of Jaws so much as Steven Spielberg, the director of Jaws.

Jaws being the first movie that popped into my mind, you understand. We're going to need a bigger boat.

Bradley J Moore said...

This is one of those moments where I am wondering how I missed the boat. I need to plug into this stuff.. sounds fascinating, and is completely aligned with my outlook on Christian life. Thanks for the heads up. I want to learn more.