Tuesday, November 16, 2010

. . . and culture

I am struggling with thoughts for a post about homosexuality and culture, but can't get them together properly.
So here is another thought about church and culture. Contextualisation. Tall Skinny Kiwi has written a blog post about 'Skate Churches'. He tells of churches that have built Christian conversations with young people by engaging them through skateboarding and surfing. For me, this is what missional Christianity is all about. This is where the Great Commission comes into action. This is what Jesus did - only skateboarding wasn't relevant in his earthly day so he got involved with fishermen and tax collectors and so on.
I have been involved in English-speaking Methodist Churches that can see this vision. They might be nervous, but they would be willing to step cautiously into the gap. However, from my point of view, the black Methodist Church could never even conceive of taking such a step. Church is as much about its form as its content. This is a problem for me.
Black Consciousness and Steve Biko followers will tell me to sit down and shut up. A white person shouldn't talk to black people about how they do church.
Yet I don't see myself as separate from other South Africans. Our destiny is in the same vehicle. There is not one world for black and one for white. We are all in this together.
Sometimes - no, often - we are driven by ideals that are illogical and inconsistent. I feel helpless!
But I suspect that with perseverance we will see Jesus' plan for South Africa.


Steve Hayes said...

What do you know about Unzondelelo?

It was an innovative evangelistic movement started by black Methodists in Natal 150 years ago, to the consternation of white Methodist missionaries.

African independent churches also show ways in which evangelism can be adapted to different cultural viewpoints and practices. Though not all have been successful, there has been no lack of variety.

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Hi Steve - we went on an uzondelelo mission with the seminary in August. It was interesting, but I would guess that it hasn't changed that much in the last 150 years! But I am not an expert, maybe I am wrong.
As to the AIC's, I suspect that is why people are leaving the MCSA for the AIC's and the pentecostal churches. Part of the problem is that African young people are becoming at least partially westernised. The church tends to be more concerned with warding off westernisation than with genuine contextualisation. HOWEVER, there are a few (less than 10?)black Methodist churches who are managing to change to a western/African hybrid that I think is working.