Cultural awareness in discipleshipN.C. BAPTIST PODCAST
This podcast was recorded at the Disciple-Making Conference breakout session training and focuses on growing disciple-makers. The gospel is like a coffee bean, says Walter Strickland. It keeps its integrity no matter what environment it’s placed in, yet it also takes on the “soil” of its surrounding cultural environment. In other words, the gospel is not captive to a culture, but it is reflected in a culture. Because the Great Commission calls Christians to make disciples of people from every nation, God is glorified by having witnesses to Himself in every cultural context. Strickland shares the importance of cultivating younger believers into those who faithfully imitate Christ in their cultural context without abandoning it or adopting their mentor’s culture.
Here is an excerpt from this podcast:
The gospel is like a coffee bean. The coffee bean is a coffee bean is a coffee bean. But, depending on where you plant it, it takes up the soil from that environment, and then it begins to taste a little bit different. So, we have Ethiopian coffee, we have Colombian coffee, we have Guatemalan, Brazilian coffee. But the coffee bean is still a coffee bean, is it not? And so the soil in which it is planted actually matters. What I’m trying to say in my parallel, is that the gospel is like a coffee bean. It keeps its integrity no matter what environment it’s placed in, but at the same time, in a real way, it sort of takes on the soil of the cultural environment in which it’s placed. The gospel refines the most God-honoring parts of a culture and then it eradicates that which does not honor Christ. The gospel goes into every environment. While it’s not captive to a culture, it is reflected in a culture. Oftentimes, our theory does not equal our practice. While we might say “Amen” to the gospel’s work of taking root in every culture, we don’t practice this well. We like the idea, but somehow that idea doesn’t inform how we do things like discipleship and even church, for that matter. I want to trace out that this happens and what we have done with culture because in order to take steps forward, we have to understand what’s actually happened. We should never be culturally captive in our theology or in our discipleship or in our discussion about biblical interpretation. The Scripture is always refining the culture, never the other way around. Sometimes we diminish the reality of culture in discipleship that we assume it’s not there. We don’t ever talk about how culture and discipleship actually come together.
by Walter Strickland / Assistant Professor / Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary