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The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Finding the Balance
Philip Ryken, pastor at Tenth Pres in Philadelphia, says the following about the instutional church's role in cultural transformation:

There is a sense in which the answer to this question must be "no." The church's primary calling is to preach the gospel and to worship God in the ministry of the Word, the sacraments, and prayer. While the worship of God and the proclamation of the gospel have a transforming influence on the surrounding culture, this does not happen directly, but indirectly, as the people of God live out the implications of their faith in every aspect of life.

Yet there are also ways in which the answer to this question must be "yes." In its priestly ministry of intercession, the local church prays for the needs of its community -- all of the areas where the surrounding culture needs to experience the transforming influence of the gospel. In its prophetic ministry of preaching and teaching God's Word, the local church disciples its members to fulfill their various callings as parents, teachers, artists, students, politicians, business people -- callings that have culture-transforming power. In its diaconal ministry of mercy, the local church offers practical service in the name of Christ -- service that transforms the lives of the poor, the homeless, and the elderly, as well as children, prisoners, and internationals. In these ways, at least, the local church is called to the gospel work of cultural transformation.

I heartily agree!