Culturally Relevant or Culturally Captive?
Has the Western, American church become culturally captive to a certain way of doing Christianity?
In 2009 Professor Soong-Chan Rah wrote a powerful book, “The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity“, exploring this question. Have we in America become captive to “White” ways of doing church? Are there ways that we have adapted our expression of Christianity to White culture in ways that are not biblical?
This is a particularly poignant question for many Anglo believers like myself who are on staff with Destino. When I am ministering on campus to Latinos what is the White Christian cultural baggage I am bringing with me? How can I identify the way my white culture has shaped my Christianity? I’ll never be able to step outside my ethnicity. That’s not the point. But I can come to acknowledge it and seek to take steps to learn the stories of other cultural traditions.
Recently I found two short video interviews featuring Prof Rah. In them he shares ways that we can begin to learn the stories of ethnic minorities. He describes ways that we can make space for a variety of cultural expressions of Christianity in America. The U.S. is rapidly becoming a multicultural place. The church has a chance to be a decade ahead of the changes in society rather than a decade behind.
In the videos he talks about how the White, suburban upper-class megachurch evangelical expression of Christianity is dying out in America. I believe Destino can be a place that helps revitalize Christianity in the United States. But it can never be that if we continue to saddle it with one particular culture’s expression of Christianity.
Part 1 (about 9 minutes):
Part 2 (about 10 minutes):
This will be a topic we continue to discuss in the coming weeks and months on Destino Yearbook. As Ralph Winter once asked, “Can we ever truly contextualize the gospel to someone else until we have decontextualized it from our own experience?” Learning about how Western, White culture has deeply influenced the way we do ministry is crucial as we move forward in launching Destino movements.
We live in an exciting time.