Culture Shift

By Shannon Youell

Last week we posted the great resource from Anna Robbins, Fearless: A guide for relating faith and culture in today’s world. When I downloaded and watched this free resource, I was encouraged in the work Anna has done on helping us understand the complex time we live in.

Much of what she shares reiterates what I spoke about at the BCY Assembly this past July. My topic was Culture Shift and our conditioned understanding of culture, the sub-cultures existing within dominant culture and how we, the church, interact or withdraw from culture or oppose the prevalent culture.

The challenge I was suggesting, for us, is that we often view culture as something outside of the church—something which we must transform. The reality, however, is that culture shift begins first with us and as we are transformed, the dominant culture around us observes something different. My premise is that, we as Christians (the church), are no longer distinguishable from the dominant culture as the early Christians were.

I then posed that the way for the church to find its way back to transformation from the inside out is to re-engage with Jesus as Lord. We must realize there are many “Caesars” we now serve in our dominant culture. When the early Christians declared that Jesus is Lord, they were clearly stating that Caesar, or the dominant values of the day, is not. Cultural commentator, author and pastor Mark Sayers posits that though Christians have tried to influence culture, the dominant culture of our day has actually “colonized” us to look just like anyone else. He and John Mark Comer of Bridgetown Church in Portland, USA, have launched a podcast that explores the intersection between faith and culture.

I am very much enjoying how Mark and John Mark discuss world views, the rise of secularization, the marginalization of the church, the current and historical influences that challenge cultural values of individualism, consumerism, de-institutionalization, identity politics and the trends of the day that are influencing and shifting our cultural norms in the western world.

Get your walking shoes on and your earpods in place and listen to challenges we are all wrestling with how to navigate these intersections in our own lives and world views, but also in our faith communities.

I would suggest that we listen to this with the posture of what do we, as Christians and communities of faith, need to shift in our own practices and commitment to “Jesus is Lord” to begin to once again become distinguishable while engaging the dominant culture around us.

I believe this was the challenge Jesus was giving to the people of faith in His day, in His Great Sermon, when He reminded God’s children of being salt and light: when the people of God no longer are distinguishable (have flavor), we are like a light under a bowl, hidden from the world that is searching for the light switch that brings peace into our homes, neighbourhoods, cities and world.





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