What if Something is Missing?

I’ve been reading Andy Crouch’s book, Culture Making, and I am struck by a section on how he talks about changing culture. He says you can’t do it by imitating it, criticizing or critiquing it, or consuming it. You change culture by creating it. You make something new to replace something else.

But here’s the problem with creating culture:

The philosopher Albert Borgmann has observed, human cultures have the strange yet fortunate property of always being full. No culture experiences itself as thin or incomplete… Consequently, cultural change will only happen when something new displaces, to some extent, existing culture in a very tangible way.* 

You see, cultures always feel they are full. They always think they have it all together. They always assume they have everything they need to be happy.

They might not be happy. They might not even really like their culture, but they still assume the norm is what should be expected. This is why families stay in generations of poverty. And why churches assume they have what they need to accomplish their mission. And why great pastors are actually great spiritual leaders, able to see what-is-not-yet.

I just left a church I had spent the last 7 years at. Today I begin a new journey at a new church. I am both saddened and excited. In it all, I remember the words of one of my mentors: “ministers come and go, but God’s mission stays the same.”

Change is hard.

In part, change is hard because no one really believes it’s necessary.

“We are fine. We should just get better at what we are doing already.” This is the great assumption every culture has ever made.

In some ways, it might be the greatest deception the world has to offer.

If we are fine, it’s not because we have arrived. And simply being better at what we are already doing is not enough. We must do something new. 

I’m trying to be open to change. I’m trying not to assume everything is as it should be. I need to change—we need to change—if we want the world to change. 

What if there was something missing? What if we actually needed God to make this thing happen?

What if we lived assuming something was missing in our culture? And instead of criticizing it. Instead of critiquing it. Instead of just consuming it. What if we partnered with the Spirit of God to create something new in each other’s lives?

This is how I want to spend my life. What about you?

*Crouch, Andy (2013-10-24). Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling (p. 67). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

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