A Different Cultural Fluency: From Christendom to Secularity

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We speak a different language because we are from a different worlds.

What is painfully obvious is that the church is fully prepared for the culture of Christendom, but ill prepared to speak into the reality of today’s culture of secularity. We ‘get’ our own culture, but we seem to be mystified by the cultural principles of our mission field. Often, our entire evangelistic worldview centers around our own preferences and sensibilities. Even many of the questions that our systematic theologies answer are questions that were asked and answered in the 16th century. Questions designed to distinguish differences within a largely similar worldview. But they often bear little relevancy to questions people are asking today.

Our entire evangelistic worldview centers around our own preferences and sensibilities.

Jewish theologian Abraham J. Heschel is often credited with the phrase, “Words create worlds.” As ministers of the gospel and people who want to partner with the mission of God for society, we need to embrace this wisdom. In Genesis, God created all things through words. In neuroscience, we create meaning and memories with words. In sociology, people groups and identities are mapped out with words. The words we use say a lot about who we are, how we want to be known, and what we value. The same is true for the church in North America. Who we are and what we value is demonstrated by the language we use. The world is listening – will they hear good news? Good news that they can understand?

The church of the future needs to be fluent in understanding the culture of the people that exists today, not the culture that we wished existed. It needs to see and know how to speak to those outside of its culture – outside of Christendom. It does not ‘other’ people, drawing lines and building niche social clubs. It is more concerned with knowing than being known. And it meets people where they are with the ‘good news’ that speaks to their hearts and their needs. It is, by its very nature, missionary.

Conversation intelligence is a way of knowing how you are heard and experienced by others. What does our language tell the world the church values? Insider language demonstrates we are exclusive and elite. Accessible language demonstrates we see and know our audience. As the church steps out of its mythical Christendom and into the reality of secularity, the message of the gospel will no longer be weighed down with inaccessible words and worlds. Instead, the call to life in Jesus will ring out clearly and comprehensibly.

Accessible language demonstrates we see and know our audience.

Join Jessie Cruickshank and Jeff Christopherson as they have a conversation with D.A. Horton and Glenn Smith, two renown voices on engaging the new secularity. Let’s discover together how we might winsomely and effectively enter the world that actually exists.

We are better together!

“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
John 17:22-23

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