Mars Hill and God’s Culture Gambit: Why Christianity Losing Cultural Influence Isn’t All Bad

A few months ago, I introduced a concept I refer to as God’s Culture Gambit. If you have time, I’d encourage you to reread the post and think about Jesus’ words I quote. The summary is that I believe God is intentionally sacrificing the Church’s influence in culture and politics. Today I’ll speculate on two reasons why God might be doing this. To do this, I want to look at a quote from the first episode of the Rise and Fall of Mars Hill podcast:

“I think in our country, we as Christians have ceased to think that the most important thing that we do is be like Christ, who serves the least of these. That’s not what we’ve been doing. We’ve been garnering fame and numbers and money and alignment with secular power that makes us look good and baptizing the whole darn thing.”

Our desire for “fame and numbers and money and alignment with secular power that makes us look good” has made us turn a blind eye towards some horrific behavior. It’s not obvious from this direct quote, but it is with some context. This quote comes amidst a discussion on why we are attracted to leaders who have charisma but don’t have the character to match it.

We’re susceptible to overlook a pastor’s character flaws if he can captivate an audience with his sermons because this leads to numbers and money and influence. But these character flaws cause serious wounds. When someone an authority on God within the church abuses someone, whether sexual or not, those wounds run deep. Maybe with God’s Culture Gambit, God is telling us that protecting the vulnerable that are become collateral damage in the name of church growth and influence is more important than church growth and influence.

The other reason I speculate God is doing this has to do with a post I wrote back in March about opportunity cost. Notice how in this quote the lady says that we have lost our focus. It’s not only that we focused so much on money and growing the church that we allowed horrific things to happen, it’s also that we lost focus on loving the least of these. Growing the church in-and-of-itself isn’t a bad thing, and many, if not most, people at Mars Hill and other churches with scandals weren’t explicitly involved in any abuse. But even if there never was any abuse, we can still be focused on the wrong things. If we are only focused on growing the influence of the church, then we aren’t focused on loving the people around us. Maybe God’s Culture Gambit will free us from distraction and let us focus on what’s most important?

1 thought on “Mars Hill and God’s Culture Gambit: Why Christianity Losing Cultural Influence Isn’t All Bad”

  1. I’ve only listened to the first of these podcasts, but I appreciated Tripp’s comment, that any church whose ministry philosophy does not reflect the grace that they preach is finished. It certainly happened.

    Many Christians I know have unknowingly embraced utilitarianism, which says that “the most good for the most people is the best.” It is not a Christian idea.

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