Are You Ahead of the Cultural Curve?

by A. Maeve McDonald

A few days ago, I received a voice mail from a ministry representative inviting me to attend a well-known [rather expensive] Christian conference in the DC-area. In her message, she exuded a kind of cultivated charisma, brimming with back-slapping enthusiasm as she used my first name unabashedly at opportune moments throughout her spiel. I listened as she confidently rattled off the reasons why it was important—no, imperative—that I should benefit from all that the conference had to offer. Two reactions surfaced as I listened to the message. My first was along the lines of: wow, this ministry is employing some gifted young Christians who know how to sell a ticket. This reaction was then quickly followed by a distinct feeling of unease.

I quickly forgot about the voice mail, until couple of days later, when I received a follow-up email about the conference. And the uncomfortable feeling crept back. The message read:

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Do You feel like the church is constantly one step behind our culture? Our environment is constantly advancing, constantly shifting, constantly adapting, and if we want to stay ahead we have to know what’s coming before it gets here.

You are ready to break this cycle. You are a Change Maker – A forward thinking, innovative leader who wants to be ahead of the curve in addressing the issues and questions our culture is grappling with. We’ve designed this gathering to help us answer those very questions.

Questioning whether my sense of unease was misplaced or perhaps unfounded altogether, I pondered for a moment what it really was that had disturbed me about the message. Was it because I didn’t like being bossed about by a presumptuous 20-something telling me I needed to learn something? Well, maybe a little. But that’s my own heart-issue. Was it because I didn’t like being pressured into buying a conference ticket in order to “get head”? Yes, probably. But I quickly realized that these things weren’t the crux of it. It was actually the perspective reflected in the message that had really unsettled me. And my heart sank a little further.

The thing is, it’s no fun to be a party-pooper. Who wants to be the old curmudgeon in the corner shaking his bony finger at an upbeat crowd of young believers setting out to change the world for Jesus? Why attempt to pour cold water on their enthusiasm? After all, their message is a positive one. And anyone who takes issue with it comes across as negative, mean-spirited, and unloving…

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Faith Actually: Are You Ahead of the Cultural Curve?