The church is not a building, it's a people. As a people, the church must be a people who listen.
First and foremost, the church is a people who listen to God through His Word and His Spirit. Additionally, however, the church must be a people who listen to the culture around them.
Why Listening to the Culture is Important
We must listen to the culture (i.e. our city, our neighborhoods, our workplaces, media, and so on) in order that we can be good missionaries to our culture. This will consist of listening to the culture to...
- …Identify idols in the culture
- …Understand who the culture consists of
- …Ascertain what those of the culture are interested in
- …Find points of connection to share the gospel
- …Know parts of the local culture well enough to integrate them into our presentation of the gospel.
We cannot be afraid of the culture, we've got to listen to the culture and engage the culture if we want to see the gospel of Jesus change and transform the culture.
The Example of Paul
Biblically, we see this exemplified by the Apostle Paul in Acts 17 when he enters into Athens. When Paul got to Athens, he engaged the Athenian culture. He doesn't hide himself from the culture or flat out reject the culture he runs headlong into it. He does so as one with the gospel of Jesus Christ in a closed fist—never to be shaken, altered, changed, or watered-down. But he also takes that gospel into the culture, getting to know the culture so that he can bring the unchangeable gospel to bear on that culture.
Do Not Be Afraid
As Christians—as the church—we cannot be afraid of the culture. We are not to run from the culture to try and protect the gospel, we're to run to the culture with the gospel. And as we do that, we are to listen to the culture so that we know the culture well enough to integrate what we know of the culture into our presentation of the gospel.