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Subcultures and the Gospel

January 28, 2008

Over at Conn-versation there is an interesting post titled Microtrends – an intriguing secular paradigm by Theological Mom.  Microtrends is a review of Mark Penn’s new book Microtrends:  The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes.  Theological Mom does a great job with the book and her analysis seems really solid.

Here is a quote from the review:
“Americans as people and the US as a nation have changed.  We’re not the great melting pot anymore, but a sliced and diced conglomeration of micro communities and special interest groups.  Think Mexican-American evangelical Protestants.   Or Christian home schoolers.”

Both the book and the review seem like solid observations of what is taking place in the US.  Who can disagree that there is a fragmenting of our society?  Whether it is politics or consumer products, we are continually segmented into categories and groups by people who want us to buy whatever they are selling.  They appeal to our fears, our wants, our pride, our likes, our dislikes, our lusts and often to our selfishness.  They show us what the cool people are driving, wearing, eating and where they are living.  Then we put people into categories.

What in the past was merely a part of who we are has become who we are, how we are identified and how people interact with us.  Certainly this takes place in society at large, but my thoughts here are specifically for the church. What we in the church must remember is:

The gospel reconciles.  Both between God and man, and between man and man.

What todays market forces, politics and pride drive apart in our culture, the gospel brings together.  Scripture tells us that the gospel brought together both Jew and Gentile.  These two groups couldn’t have been much different, but they were united under Christ through the gospel.  Through the gospel our identity is found in Christ, and we enter into a larger, historicaly community of faith that comes together to worship God, love one another, love our neighbors and to seek the peace of those in our spheres of influence.

In this community of faith, people still belong to different political parties, they still drive different cars, wear different things and they have very different interests.  But we are not to be defined by these differences and segmented into different spaces in the church, are we?  The richness of the gospel and of the church is that we are different but that we are drawn together by the gospel.  Our testimony of reconciliation through Jesus is made more credible by our reconciliation with one another.  Additionally, we miss so much cultural/socioeconomic richness in the church when we segment ourselves from one another.   The gospel is bigger than our differences.

I am not saying we all have to have the same music, and the same styles.  But as a church planter, I want to be aware of how we contribute to the segmentation of people groups and how we present the gospel as reconciliation.  I want to be based in reality also.  The truth is that the church exist within this segmented society.  But I really hope and pray that the segmentation can stop (or be redeemed) when people interact with the church.  Please Lord, help us to be examples and agents of your reconciliation.

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