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.





FEARLESS: A guide for small groups

By Anna Robbins

When I was with you for your assembly back in 2013, and with the pastors and spouses in Banff in 2016, I engaged with people on some of the basics of relating faith and culture in today’s world. I have given similar workshops with regularly-updated material in many places before and since, and the MacRae Centre for Christian Faith and Culture at Acadia Divinity College has decided to produce this as a six-week small group resource, complete with teaching sessions and leader’s guide with discussion questions and bible studies.

FEARLESS for Small Groups
We are so deeply committed to the contemporary church in Canada, that we want to share this educational resource with your leaders for free. We have already given out over 100 copies to pastors and churches in Atlantic Canada, and we would like to offer it free to the wider Canadian Baptist family as well.

The world is changing so rapidly; we find it difficult to understand what’s happening to our churches, or where our faith fits. We can lock the doors and hide in fear, or we can engage our mission to the world with courage! Fearless is a new resource designed for small groups to tackle what it means to live out the Christian faith in an ever-changing culture. Lively introductions by Lennett Anderson, and clear teaching by Anna Robbins, together with a leader’s study guide, will equip your group to understand the relationship between faith and culture, so that they can live courageously as Christians in the world today.

Click here to download. CBWC churches and leaders use the CODE: CBWC-Fearless at checkout for free access.

The six sessions include the following topics:
* What is culture?
* How do faith and culture relate?
* How does culture influence faith?
* What does it mean to be in the world and not of the world?
* How does faith influence culture?
* How do we live out Fearless faith today?