Albert Tate is concerned that Christians are taking their cues from culture—and he isn’t the only one.
During the second episode of the He Gets Us Engaging Culture Series, ministry leaders came together to discuss the Christian witness in an era of disillusionment and distrust. Building on episode one’s discussion about the gap between culture and faith, episode two featured a dialogue between:
- Ed Stetzer, executive director at the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center
- Albert Tate, author and pastor of Fellowship Church
- Andy Stanley, pastor of North Point Ministries
The conversation focused on how to tell the Christian story in today’s culture and in ways that connect with those who are otherwise closed to the gospel. Stetzer, Tate, and Stanley discussed how to, as C.S. Lewis once put it, “steal past watchful dragons.” Lewis overcame people’s hesitations around faith, by writing fiction that stirred the imagination, yet carried tremendous theological weight.
So what might it look like for Christians to stop taking their cues from culture so that they might sneak past the watchful dragons of this age?
Name the Dragons
First, according to Stetzer, we must be able to name the challenges before us. The two dragons of culture–polarization and commercialization–lurk alongside three dragons inside each church–politicization, abuse, and moralism.
Tate spoke to polarization and politicization as dragons that divide.
“I see Christians responding to Fox and CNN and MSNBC more than we do the B-I-B-L-E,” he explains. “We are siblings, and we are all called to sit at this family table..”
At this shared table, we all pray to “Our Father”—not your father or my father, but our father. Christians are first identified by their status as a child of God who has siblings of every tongue, tribe, and nation, a status no dragon can destroy.
Hospitality, friendship, and stories remind us that these relationships matter more than political affiliation, and this awareness orients us toward truth, which makes the toxic, watchful dragons easier to tame.
Setting the Table
One way to deal with dragons is to work around them, which often requires a little creativity. Like Lewis, believers don’t need to water down the gospel or avoid the more challenging topics. Instead, they can tell the gospel story in compelling ways by considering the:
- Perspective: honor non-dominant viewpoints
- Purpose: change the goal from winning to loving
- Need: speak to the shared longing to be seen, known, and joined
He Gets Us, a campaign designed to raise the respect and relevance of Jesus in our culture, is one example of rethinking the status quo in creative ways to share Jesus with others. As the largest faith-based media campaign in history, over 100 million people have already seen the thought-provoking video ads He Gets Us has produced—ads that show how Jesus felt alone, dealt with outrage, and experienced all manner of human conditions.
“We have far more in common with every single person we meet than we have uncommon,” Stanley says. He encourages believers to start relationships around those commonalities and to allow time and trust to build before launching into discussions that could cause disagreement. Rather than taking cues from the cultural dragon of politicization, Christians should keep their eyes on Christ—recognizing that he consistently modeled conversations that began with compassion and tenderness. And in doing so together, Stanley believes people can enjoy the unity Jesus prayed for in John 17.
The Story of Jesus
Join nearly 6,000 churches in setting the table and telling the story of a God who gets us. By identifying the watchful dragons of culture and church, and by welcoming others to the table through shared values and highlighting the humanity of Jesus, congregations can take their cues from Jesus, not culture.
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