We Like People Like You
Our life in Kenya began, of course, before we even moved here. It began with short visits, long talks, and dreams of partnering with God and others in ways that would help bring life to the people of Nakuru. We knew we were coming to start a church, but even before we packed up to head to Kenya, we were having conversations (in Houston, over Tex-Mex) about a greater work.
In one sense, everything we do is “church,” but if we consider the more modern understanding of the word, what we felt God driving us toward was something deeper – something holistic.
We talked about a work that would affect every aspect of life in our city – that would literally be good news for everyone. We recognized that “church” and “good news” are not synonymous for many people – that the life and message of Jesus has been so twisted and abused for so long that the teaching of many churches flies in the face of the good news Jesus came to offer.
In this rapidly modernizing city, we could see the good and the bad of western culture descending upon people. And while westernized music and films were easily beamed into homes and onto phones, the church was losing its grip.
I was reminded of an article I read several years back about the American cultural revolution of the 1960s. In the span of less than ten years, Americans saw the church move from the center of culture to the periphery. As culture entered a phase of rapid change, the church dug its heels in, refusing to change for what were purportedly spiritual reasons. In many cases, the opposed changes were very much cultural ones, couched in religious language.
Nevertheless, the church refused to budge. Christian cultural engagement became about pointing fingers and telling people what was wrong with them. The vulnerable young people who were calling for change in America were simultaneously being pushed out of churches. Their hair was too long, their music was too loud, and their demeanor was too relaxed. They looked nothing like the church (even if some may have looked like Jesus.)
Fast forward a couple of generations, and the church is wholly irrelevant to many Americans, even though Jesus himself remains a popular figure.
Flash back to Kenya, back to the vision God is giving us for this place. One day, while praying for direction, I realized that we are living in the midst of a cultural revolution in Kenya much like America in the 60s. And here, as in the U.S., the church has a choice to make. Do we slide to the side with our pointed fingers and judgmental language and lose our voice in culture? Or do we jump into the middle of the tide and provide much-needed wisdom and peace amidst the chaos?
At Trinity Vineyard, we aren’t afraid of change. We aren’t afraid of culture. We aren’t afraid of differences of opinion. This is a place where all are welcome. Yes, even you.
This post originally appeared on www.trinitynakuru.org.