In the final episode of Season 1 of The Eudo Podcast, Dr. Paul M. Gould casts a vision for how we can join together in helping others see Christianity as reasonable and desirable
How does cultural apologetics encourage us to think of ministry in Four Dimensions?
Much of our efforts in Christian ministry are 2D—and, of course, it is critical that we think two-dimensionally. In fact, the last words of Jesus, right before his ascension, in Acts 1:8, he remind us that we will be witnesses of Jesus and the gospel first in Jerusalem (that is, our home), then in Judea and Samaria (that is, our communities next to us), and ultimately to the ends of the earth (that is, everywhere on the Planet where there are people, there is a need for the gospel to go forth).
But there are two other dimensions to consider. There is the 3rd dimension of depth, and the 4th dimension which is time.
Depth has to do with drilling deep at every point in the map – understanding the mindset, emotional response patters, the values, the imaginations and narratives that inform those we seek to reach with the gospel.
The 4th dimension is the one that is missing from most evangelistic and apologetic strategies, however: time.
We tend, as evangelicals to be very short-term in our thinking and pragmatic in the metrics we use to measure success. For example, a church might measure success in terms of attendance, or decisions for Christ, or numbers of baptism per year—all of which, of course, are incredibly important. But, the problem is if we only pay attention to these metrics, without paying attention to the condition of the soil of culture or the direction of culture, these all important numbers will decline, and there’ll be nothing we can do to stop it. In short, we must begin to think long-term—in terms of generations even—so that we can ensure that the gospel gets a fair hearing both today and in the future.
Why it is important for Christians to think long-term when it comes to the gospel?
Makoto Fujimura, in his book Culture Care, helps us see the importance of generational thinking:
Our lives are directed or constrained by paths paved by the generations before us. Sometimes we can trace the paths… Often they shape us unawares. What is true of legacies from our parents is true also for our communities and racial and national histories. Cultures are not created overnight. We are affected by layers of experiences, personalities, and works of previous generations. Cultural histories affect us far beyond what we are able to recognize—or, sometimes, admit [Fujimura, Culture Care, 20-21].
Since cultural formation is generational, an apologetic of return “can inspire us to work within a vision for culture,” as Fujimura writes, “that is expressed in centuries and millennia rather than quarter, seasons, or fashions.”
A cultural Apologetics of re-enchantment will require the body of Christ to come together to work toward the good of all. It will take patrons, visionaries, artists, intellectuals, cultural innovators, pastors, lawyers, business women and men, doctors and nurses, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters to each play their part in God’s unfolding story. In short, it will require the body of Christ being the hands and feet of Jesus to each other and helpful guides to those along the way.
Practically speaking, we’ve established 5 ways that you—the listener—can join with us at the TTI in this work of showing Christianity reasonable and desirable to the world both today and in the future. Join with us as we work to inspire, equip, and bring together creators and cultivators of the good, true, and beautiful by:
- Supporting the on-going work of the Two Tasks Institute with a monthly or one-time gift – supports The Eudo Podcast, cohort groups, videos, reviews, Art and the Kingdom, and more!
- Supporting the long-term vision of the Two Tasks Institute to show the reasonableness and desirability of Jesus and the gospel with future generations by donating to the Two Tasks Institute Foundation – we are working in culture-shaping institutions (i.e. the university, the arts, business) to re-assert Christian leadership. TTI has the goal $1 million by 2020, $10 million by 2030.
- Sign-up for the Two Tasks Institute email list to stay up-to-date on the Institute’s Initiatives!
- Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and invite your friends to follow us too!
- Start a Two Tasks Cohort! Invite your friends, provide the meal, and we’ll provide the content and questions!
- Fujimura, Makoto. Culture Care: Reconnecting with Beauty for our Common Life. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2017.
- Larson, Erik. The Devil in the White City. New York, NY: Vintage Books, 2003.