Church and Context (Ail Rhan)

30 Mar

2. Aspects of Contextualization

After looking at some principles that must govern our contextualization (namely accommodating, confronting and transforming) we should honestly look at the areas in which we communicate a culture to those around us and ask what culture it is we are communicating.

Depending on the culture we promote some people will be attracted, some repulsed. Both are inevitable.

LifeStyle and Contact

Peter tells Christians to live holy lives amongst the pagans. Generally churches and Christians will struggle to do both. Either an emphasis on engagement will lead to compromise of holiness or a fanaticism for purity will lad to isolation.

Which extreme we lean towards communicates something of the culture of our churches and will either attract or repulse certain people.

Congregational Meetings

There are so many aspects of our congregational meetings that communicate a particular culture that we often over look.

Things like location. Will certain people be able to get there or even want to walk in? Is your meeting place a venue that is only really accessible to a certain segment of society?

Things like the timing. For example with much sport for children happening late Sunday mornings, having a 10:30 Sunday service will automatically disqualify some.

Congregational Participation. Which ever end of the involvement spectrum you are some will people will be included while others will be excluded.


Surprisingly enough the leadership make up of your church will communicate a culture to those outside (and inside actually). Things like the average age, the authority they excercise and the structure of church government.

Ask the honest question, “What does this communicate?” That’s not to say you should change it, but awareness of these answers is vital.


From your primary teaching method to your style of preaching. From your emphasis on Sundays to your Gospel emphasis. All communicate a culture. A good question to ask is, “What literacy level is required to get anything out of the various teaching ministries that go on?”

Dress Sense

No doubt there’s a ‘style’ in your church. Not just in clothing but hair and musical tastes etc. Things like this can make a person feel instantly comfortable or a complete alien. Thing ho you feel when you walk into a shop and everyone has completely different clothes to those you are wearing.

The point of noting these things isn’t that there’s a right or better culture to communicate, but to be aware of the implicit culture you’re communicating. Knowing this will help your church to reach out with the Gospel.


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