To Change the World It Will Take a Village (of Churches)

Andy Crouch's extremely profound book, Culture Making, is probably my favorite book on the subject of how Christians and the church engage culture in transformative ways. I have the utmost regard for this wise, engaging, challenging book.

James Davidson Hunter is another writer (a Christian sociologist) who writes powerfully, but more densely, on the same subject. I read his book, To Change the World, right after I read culture Making. A slower read, as I said - dense, but rich in insight about changing culture.

Here is a thought from To Change the World that was quoted in the volume of essays - Pastoral Work: Engagement With the Vision of  Eugene Peterson. I have this quote highlighted, underlined, starred and with notes all around it. Since it is a little dense/wordy, I am going to space it out for easier reading. I will then give a brief comment.

As a community and an institution,
the church is a plausibility structure,

and the only one with the resources capable of offering
an alternative formation to that offered by popular culture.

The depth and stability of formation, are directly tied to
the depth and stability of the social and structural environment in which it takes place.

Formation into a vision of human flourishing
requires an environment that embodies

historical memory,
rituals marking seasons of life,
intergenerational interdependence,
and most important of all, common worship.

At all levels,
formation into a vision of human flourishing requires
intentionality and the social, economic, intellectual, and cultural resources
of a healthy, mutually dependent, and worshipping community
provided for Christians by the church.

To Change the World, James Davidson HunterCulture Making, Andy CrouchHunter (and Crouch) make a powerful case that individuals cannot do the Christian journey alone. They cannot achieve the formation necessary apart from participation into a vital, rich, deep, historic community of Christian faith (with all its theology, rituals, rhythms, structures and systems). 

Hunter (and Crouch) are powerful voices about the importance of institutions, systems and structures for human flourishing. This flies in the face of the idealistic (and unbiblical) framework of the independent individual pursuing their personal journey, with their own "self" as the legitimizing authority. 

We have a lot of work to do to shepherd, nurture, empower, multiply and extend the communities Hunter describes, so we can be about the task of Culture Making and Changing the World.

By God's good grace, all things are possible.

Brian K. Rice
Leadership  ConneXtions International

LCI - helping you architect and lead "Plausability Structures" that change the world.