“The culture barrier between the churches and the unchurched…is the largest single cause of…Christianity’s decline…” – George Hunter III
Question: have we added requirements to the gospel that hinders the unchurched from joining us?
“To become a Christian, you not only have to believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God…you also have to find a way of living in a culture that no longer exists in everyday life.” – Martin Robinson, quoted by George Hunter
“…American Christianity has added to the unusual expectations that the people who join our churches will become ‘like us.’
“…Are America’s church people the North American ‘Judaizers’?” – George Hunter
He goes on to talk about Christians maintaining a European style of worship that works against Jesus commission to make disciples of all nations. The word nations means “ethnic groups.” In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus was instructing us to become culturally and ethnically diverse. In other words we need to ask ourselves, “When did any Anglo congregations say to African American visitors, ‘We will change to an African American style music?’ When did any Anglo congregations say to Hispanic visitors, ‘We will conduct the worship in Spanish?'”
“…Let’s ask ourselves some painfully specific questions. How open are we to people who drink, or smoke? How open are we to ‘hard living’ people with addictions and soap opera values? How open are we to young men who ride motorcycles, who wear jeans, long hair…earrings, and leather jackets with the words ‘Life Sucks.’ How open are we, really, to illiterate people, to homeless people, to people with AIDS? How open are we to people with dirt under their fingernails, or unshined shoes, with bad breath or body odor, who might belch or break wind or split an infinitive in the church building? Such questions are important because the U.S. has tens of millions of people who have some ‘rough edges,’ who lack some middle-class social graces, who can’t read music and wouldn’t know how to second a motion, who aren’t quite ‘refined,’ who lack many of the ‘civilized’ standards of church people. Our Church subculture has erected dozens of barriers that separate many people from the possibility of becoming disciples. Virtually all of those barriers are essentially cultural barriers, and have little or nothing to do with ‘faith once delivered to the saints.'” – George Hunter III, Church for the Unchurched, pp. 62-64
Grace Church Seattle, we were confronted with this in 2002, and we have been overcoming these barriers ever since. Let us continue to strive to let go of disputable matters (Romans 14) and move on to maturity and reaching out with the gospel that actually saves souls.