Cultural relevance and church cevelopment: An analysis of the tension between Christ and culture and the importance of cultural relevance for church development
The article analyses the term cultural relevance and its importance for Church development. The questions are: What is the understanding of the term cultural relevance and what is the significance of the cultural factor for the understanding of the Church’s nature and task and consequently what are the consequences for the Church’s working methods and strategy? The principle issues are discussed through an analysis of the typology and five relational types of H. Richard Niebuhr’s book Christ & Culture, an evaluation of Jimmy Long’s five corresponding church types and Miroslav Volf’s ecclesiastical identity, including a theological discussion related to the paradigm change from modernism to postmodernism. The author defends Volf’s understanding of the church’s identity and nature and defines cultural relevance foremost as a new eschatological fellowship, expressing its own identity in the common culture. The task and goal of the church is to become an influencing church, i.e. by avoiding ideological pitfalls and enhancing all possibilities in the prevailing culture. In the practical part of the article, Jackson W. Carroll’s combined strategy of resistance and adjustment are defended after a presentation and evaluation of several church movements’ relation to culture. The concluding part of the article defends the use of the combined strategy as the best way to become an influencing church, and is closed by four practical-theological implications for church development.
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