The Church As Counter-Culture


Thank you guys for hanging in. This has been a lot of fun. This is Brett McCracken. Brett was at Biola University for nine years and then just recently jumped on the staff of The Gospel Coalition as their Arts and Culture editor. Author of three books?

Brett McCracken: Mm-hmm (affirmative). 

Speaker 1: Hipster Christianity. Gray Matters. It's a great book on Christian liberty questions. And then his new book is called Uncomfortable. He'll be talking about topics related to that today. I really, really commend that book to you all in just thinking about the culture of our church, of our churches, of who we're trying to sort of bring together. It's a great book. I'll let him talk more than I will. Here's Brett McCracken.

Brett McCracken: Thank you. 

Yeah, so this is actually a fitting segue perhaps from Mike's talk on politics and power and Trump. I'm gonna start by talking about Friedrich Nietzsche. 

So, Friedrich Nietzsche was, as many of you know, he was kind of a towering figure of 19th century philosophy. He was among a group that theologian Richard Lints calls "the secular prophets." These would be people like Marx, Hegel, Feuerbach, Freud, Nietzsche. People who were leveling these new critiques against Christianity in the 19th century, kind of positioning Christianity as itself a form of idolatry. A kind of making in man's own image, a mythology that was just a means to cope. It was just kind of a neuroses, a thing that we created to make sense, to help us cope with the challenges of existence.

Nietzsche was probably the most bold and colorful of these secular prophets in terms of his version of this critique. He called Christianity "the religion of pity," or worse, "the religion of comfortableness." So for Nietzsche, growth in life was about confronting weakness and facing the meaninglessness of life head on, recognizing that actually suffering the brutality in life was simply a means of becoming stronger. To avoid or minimize pain, or to delude yourself into kind of valorizing weakness, which is what he thought Christianity did, was to limit your capacity for happiness, for strength.

So Nietzsche, he wrote this about people who ascribe to Christianity, this religion of comfortableness. He said, "How little you know of human happiness, you comfortable and benevolent people. For happiness and unhappiness are sisters and even twins that either grow up together, or as in your case, remain small together." 

For Nietzsche, Christianity was for weak people. It was for people who were destined to remain small. Christianity was just a narcotic that stilted one's capacity to address their own shortcomings, and it numbed their capacity to experience life at its fullest, to experience joy. 

Alain de Botton in his book The Consolations of Philosophy summarizes Nietzsche's view of Christianity in this way. "Christianity had, in Nietzsche's account, emerged from the minds of timid slaves in the Roman Empire who had lacked the stomach to climb to the tops of mountains, and so had built themselves a philosophy claiming that their bases were delightful. They had fashioned a hypocritical creed denouncing what they wanted but were too weak to fight for while praising what they did not want but happened to have. Powerlessness became goodness, baseness humility. Submission to people one hated became obedience, and in Nietzsche's phrase, not being able to take revenge turned into forgiveness. Every feeling of weakness was overlaid with a sanctifying name and made to seem 'a voluntary achievement, something wanted, chosen, a deed, an accomplishment.' And so, addicted to this religion of comfortableness, Christians in Nietzsche's view had given precedence to what was easy, not what was desirable, and so had drained life of its potential."

So, was Nietzsche right? Was he right to call Christianity "the religion of comfortableness?" Was he correct to see Christianity as this kind of uncourageous, convenient system to escape the difficulty of life? 

I actually think in some, in many times and places and contexts, including his own 19th century European context, Christianity was rather comfortable. It was cultural. It was easy. It was thoughtless, perhaps. Superficial. And I think, as we've already talked about, Mike's talk, we see this in our Christianity in America today. A lot of today's Christians fit this bill, especially in Western context. Christianity has become this religion of escape. This religion of comfort. It's religion that doesn't ask much of people, that doesn't cost them anything. It's a religion of moralistic, therapeutic deism. So in that sense, I think Nietzsche's critique is correct. 

Where Nietzsche is wrong I think though, is in suggesting that there's something inherently comfortable about Christianity. That in its very essence, Christianity, following Jesus, is sort of convenient. This disingenuous system of consolation to help the weak people of the world. That actually isn't true, and in my new book Uncomfortable I go into great detail about all the ways that I think Christianity in its essence is actually inherently uncomfortable, both in what it asserts and what it calls us to believe, and also maybe especially in what it calls us to do and be in community with others as the church. 

The church, which I'm gonna talk about the church today. The church of Jesus Christ was never meant to be comfortable. Was never meant to be this cultural, kind of middle class escape, diversion, amusement that just affirms us in our existing idolatry and helps us achieve our best life now. The church was meant to be a counterculture, offering a radically different vision for human flourishing. 

So, I wanna talk about some specific marks of what our countercultural identity is as the church. There are many things I could talk about but for the sake of time, I'm just gonna focus on five countercultural identity markers for what we can be and what we need to really lean into, I think, in today's world and owning this countercultural identity. And just to clarify, when I'm talking about countercultural, I'm not using it in the cool hipster sense in terms of like what's happening now in Brooklyn or Portland or Austin. I did write a whole book about that. It's called Hipster Christianity, but that's not what I'm talking about here necessarily. 

I'm not talking about how to be countercultural in some pragmatic, evangelism method in order to just like, get the millennials excited about Christianity. No, I'm talking about simply recovering things about the church in our very essence. Things that have always been true about the church. Things that maybe we've forgotten, or maybe because they're so close to us we don't recognize just how radical they actually are. What I was critiquing in Hipster Christianity was the pragmatic approach. It was this critique of the churches, the Christians who kind of scan the horizon of our world today and look to the cool trends and look outside of ourselves, external to the church to find our relevance. So that was my critique in Hipster Christianity. 

What I'm arguing in that book and here is that actually, we need to look within our own tradition, within church history to better recognize who we are. What is the church?  What does it mean to be the church and how are we countercultural naturally? Naturally countercultural, not only in this particular age but really in any age. I think that's where we'll find our true relevance. 

Okay, so five attributes, five marks of countercultural identity. Here we go. The first one that I think is fitting in a conference about redemptive presence is countercultural presence. I'm gonna talk about this in terms of physical presence. I think that since day one, Christianity was a physical embodied religion. It wasn't just this disembodied, ethereal set of concepts that people were called to ascribe to. No, it was about this physical gathering of people to pray, to sing, to break bread together, these incarnational physical acts. From the Last Supper in the upper room, which is maybe the first kind of church meeting perhaps in the New Testament, down through the ages, millions of Christians every Sunday are gathering in physical space. Right? This happens in the world every Sunday and it has for 2,000 years. Whether you're in Buenos Aires or Beirut or Boston or any other city, there's Christians meeting physically. There's been this unbroken chain of the physical gathering of God's people. 

I think we lose a sense for how radical this is. We take it for granted, maybe because it's been so easy for us in America to just go to church. It's just kind of a cultural, normal thing. But that's a radical act. What else in the world brings people together with such regularity and physical presence? Very few things do that. 

I think it's an especially important and jarring reality in today's world, where the trajectory is away from incarnational physical presence to a more disembodied experience. Right? We're living through screens more and more, and phones. Our relationships are digital. All of this is amplifying, I think, the existing gnostic tendencies that we have to kind of make faith this cerebral thing rather than an embodied thing. It's this subtle de-emphasis of the crucial physicality of the church. The body of Christ, not just in a cerebral sense but in a physical, material sense. 

So in a world like this, it's so essential that the church gathers in common space and kind of owns that physicality. We need to recognize what a countercultural thing that is and what a countercultural gift that is to the world. I think people are hungry for this. I think churches that are making it easier to just listen to the podcast on your own or watch online, I think they're not giving our culture the gift that we have to offer, which is physical presence with people who are different from you. You're worshiping side by side. You're taking the communion side by side. This very physical act. You're moving in worship. You're shaking hands. You're having awkward hugs. All of that is a beautiful, wonderful thing about what we are as a physical kind of entity as the church. And most importantly, we're here as a community experiencing the presence of God. The Holy Spirit is here with us, with the ecclesia, the people that the Spirit is creating. That is an amazing, radical thing. 

We need to recognize this as one of the great gifts we can give the 21st century, is a re-sensitizing of the physical, fleshly incarnational reality of what it means to be human in community. That leads to my second mark of the countercultural church and that is, we are a countercultural family. 

This is related to the physical presence idea. Christianity isn't just a solo affair where you just go it alone. We are a people, plural. It's not a singular thing. It's a family. It's a new people. In a world that idolizes the nuclear family, right? We've come to this point in our cultural where marriage, having kids ... its such an enshrined right that to be denied it under any circumstance is unthinkable. It's this like ... The nuclear family has been idolized and I think the church of Jesus Christ can offer something different. An alternative vision of what a family can be. 

In the church, married couples, single people, young people, old people, everyone in between is part of the same family and I think we need to practice this. We need to find ways to really embody this in our communities, not just talking about it but living it. I think that's a powerful gift we can give to our world. One way my wife and I do this ... We're newly married. We don't have our own kids yet, but we love to be spiritual parents to the single folks in our community. Last year, last December we were thinking about going on a vacation. We typically go somewhere international every year on vacation, the two of us. Both of us were like, why don't we actually invite some of the single people in our community who aren't going anywhere during the holidays and could just come on a family vacation with us?

So we decided to go to Rome to kind of have an early Christian history trip to Rome. We went to England and Ireland as well, and we invited six single young adults in our church in their 20's and 30's. We didn't know if they would say yes, but every single one of them to a person said yes. They came with us and the day before we left, Kira and I were second-guessing ourselves. Are we making a huge mistake? Instead of going and having a relaxing vacation, we're inviting these six young adults to come with us. But man, it was a beautiful experience. It was such a beautiful picture of the family, the countercultural new family that is created through Jesus Christ. We were traveling around Europe like any other family would and we were eating all our meals together and it was a wonderful thing.

So we need to find ways to do that. We need to find ways to live into this beautiful, countercultural family of Jesus Christ that isn't bound by blood and DNA but is bound by the blood of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit. This transcends generations. It transcends cultures, races, genders. There's neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female. We're all one, right, in Jesus Christ. 

I think that we can't underscore enough how important this is. We can't neglect the urgency in our culture today of striving after this. I think it sounds idealistic and it's so hard because there's so many reasons why we do fragment and why we do congregate with people who are like us in our churches, but this is such an opportunity for us to offer a hopeful vision to the world that's dividing along every imaginable line right now.

Mike talked a little bit about the idea of eschatology and the now and the not yet. The church is an eschatological entity and that's our calling, to be a glimpse now of the not yet. If you think about Revelation and the vision of heaven it's every tribe and tongue and nation worshiping together. It's this picture of the diversity of the world. It still retains that diversity in heaven, but we're together unified, worshiping God together. If we're not striving after giving a glimpse of that now, I think we're not living up to our calling. 

Okay, so countercultural presence, countercultural family. The third countercultural mark I'm gonna talk about is countercultural conformity. This is gonna be a maybe interesting and challenging one. It's kind of the flip side of diversity. As Christians, we are all called to conform ourselves to the same person. Right? Jesus Christ. Even amidst our diversity, we're called to be imitators of Jesus. Paul hammers this home so many times in the New Testament. To the Thessalonians he says, "Ye became imitators of us and of the Lord." To the Corinthians he said, "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ." 

So this idea of imitation is huge in Christianity. To be a disciple of Christ is to be an imitator. Imitation is, I think it's one of the keys to the continuity that we've seen in the church over time, as one generation faithfully models Christlikeness to the next and we imitate those who have come before us. 

The thing about imitation, and this is where it gets countercultural and hard, is that it invariably will lead to a certain degree of sameness. Right? We're all imitating the same person, Jesus Christ. That's our call. I think that idea is kind of an anathema in our culture, which is all about celebrating individuality and uniqueness. We push back against conformity. But I think Christianity actually is a religion of conformity, to some extent. It calls us all to conform ourselves to the likeness of Christ, to be imitators of Jesus. 

We don't like this. Our culture doesn't like this idea. And even some churches and Christians, I don't think are really comfortable with this idea. They would rather kind of freshen up Christianity and make it relevant and new than have this thing where they look similar. Like, they don't wanna look similar to other churches. They don't wanna look similar to the churches their parents went to, the churches their grandparents went to, right? They would rather be pioneers than imitators. 

But that's not Christianity. I think Christianity is more about continuity with the past with what's come before than reinventing the wheel. I think healthy churches, truly countercultural churches, are not the churches that are embarrassed by their churchiness, by the fact that they look similar to other churches. I think healthy churches embrace the idea of imitation and are profoundly grateful for the continuity of Christianity. For the faithful servants of Christ who have modeled Christlikeness from generation to generation.

You know, I think ideally the situation in our world today would be that Christians everywhere ... and Christians exist everywhere in the world. That's one of the amazing things about this faith. It would be amazing if we looked and talked like Jesus enough that everyone would be able to identify, "That's a Jesus person. That's a Christian," but unfortunately, and it's very lamentable that this is the case, even within Christianity we are aliens to each other. Right? We talked about the Trump-voting Christians. Then there's the Sojourners Christians and they are miles apart. That's a problem, right? 

If to be a Christian is to look like Jesus, how come there's such disparity? How come we look so vastly different from one another? So, this is one of those points where I think the ideal is far from the reality but it's nevertheless something we should strive after. To be communities of Christlike conformity where our differences are still there and celebrated, but they don't keep us from sharing in the common pursuit of imitating Christ and ultimately getting to this place where we are all looking like Jesus to the point that the world can recognize that those are the Jesus people. They're living like Jesus. 

This brings me to my fourth mark of the countercultural Christian community, and that is the idea of change. Countercultural change. The church is a place where change needs to be happening. Transformation, sanctification, and growth. Christianity doesn't just say, "You are fine as you are." It actually says, "We meet you where you are." The grace of God covers everything. It's enough for everyone wherever they are, but we don't leave you there. Right? We grow together. That's what we do in our churches. We strive together as a community of broken sinners in the direction of holiness. 

There's a poet named Christian Wiman. Are you guys familiar with Christian Wiman? He's an amazing Christian poet. In his memoir My Bright Abyss, he has this great little line where he describes Christian faith as "faith in change," and I think that's so good. To be a Christian is to believe change is possible. That is a countercultural idea in today's world, I think. Our world is all about "No one should tell you to change. You're fine as you are. You were born this way. It's who you are. Be whoever you wanna be. Don't let anyone ever tell you that you need to change." But Christianity actually does call us to change. All of us, in that direction of conforming ourselves to the likeness of Christ. 

About a month ago, my wife was at BevMo getting a bunch of beverages for a party we were having. It was the book release party for Uncomfortable and she was checking out and she had a lot of wine and beer. The guy at the checkout line was like, "What is all this for? You having a party?" She was like, "Yeah, my husband wrote a book." 

The guy was like, "Oh, what's the book about?" She said, "Uh, it's actually a book about the church." Granted, she's buying a lot of wine and beer as she says this, so who knows what he was thinking when she said that. He then asked, "Okay, so what is it called? What's the title?" She said, "It's called Uncomfortable." 

He was looking puzzled. He was trying to piece all this together, and then he said this, "It sounds like a book about growth." And my wife was like, "Yeah, actually that's exactly right. It's a book about growth." 

I think that's so interesting. Here's a guy who, I don't know what his faith background is, but he knew enough that this is a book about the church, it's called Uncomfortable, oh it must be a book about growth. Even the outside world looks in and sees, recognizes, this is what church is ultimately about. It's about growth. So we need to own that characteristic, and we need to push back against this mentality in our world that we don't need to change. That we're fine as we are. We need to be actually as compelled by pursuing holiness as we are by sharing brokenness. 

A couple years ago, I wrote a piece for the Gospel Coalition about how authenticity is kind of the new brokenness. It's like the currency of brokenness. Authenticity is such a value in our world today, but it's essentially code for brokenness. Authenticity and brokenness is more compelling to people than holiness. Even in our own churches, if we're honest. WE go around in our small groups something and we just kind of share how broken we are and our struggles. And that's good, don't get me wrong. We need to do that vulnerable thing of confessing our brokenness, sharing our burdens with one another. But we need to go beyond that. I think too often we stay there. We stay in that authentic, "You're broken, I'm broken, let's just be broken together and have a beer." We need to move beyond that.

The church is a community that isn't about solidarity in brokenness as much as solidarity in seeking after Christlikeness and growing in holiness together. And I think insofar as we downplay the importance of holiness and the importance of change, what ends up happening is our churches just end up looking and talking and behaving like anyone else in the world. Right? We lose any sense of being different. 

Throughout the Bible, Old Testament and New, it's the difference of God's people that makes a difference. Israel is a light to the world insofar as it's different. We are salt and light because we're different from the darkness. The difference of our holiness matters for mission.

Martin Lloyd Jones says this, "The glory of the Gospel is that when the church is absolutely different from the world, she invariably attracts it." I think that's right. I think that our holiness, the change in our communities, is a critical mark of who we are because of mission. It's through the witness of our transformed lives that people are turned on to the Gospel. Again, this isn't about the strength of our character. It's about the Gospel. It's about the glory of Jesus Christ on the cross, enabling this change to happen through the power of the Holy Spirit sanctifying us for the purpose of mission. That's where I wanna land with my fifth point in terms of a countercultural identity marker is countercultural mission. 

We have a mission as Christians that is very radical in today's world because it isn't a mission that is ultimately about ourselves. It isn't about self-help. It isn't a self-help mission. It is about our lives growing and changing, but it isn't for our own sake. It's about our transformed lives bearing witness to the Gospel of Jesus and bringing him glory. 

The mission that we're called to is never about us. It's about imitating Christ and showing him to the world by laying down our lives by sacrificing for others, by taking up our crosses, by putting others first, by being this redemptive presence in an others-focused, Christ-focused way rather than the default of our culture ,which is kind of a me-focused way. 

So, it's not about our best life now. That's not what our mission is about. Christians, we believe that our best life is still to come, right? And because we believe that, it gives us this power, this endurance to face pain, to face suffering, and to count it all joy. For us, the best life is still to come and the best kind of earthly life we can have is actually lived by pouring our lives out for others by sacrificing our comfort for the sake of Jesus, for the sake of a greater purpose than our own happiness. 

This is a radical proposition in a consumerist society that's so oriented around the self and self-actualization, bettering yourself, finding yourself. This gets back to the identity politics, right? We have this surge of identity politics because there's nothing else to live for, right? It's about your own self. It's this very Darwinian world. And so to return to Nietzsche, I think this is what he was about as well. He was about the individual self is all that matters. It's all you should care about. This idea of the will to power. I think Nietzsche was an early adopter of this whole mentality of your best life now. Carpe diem. That was what Nietzsche was about. For him and in so many other cases of people in today's world, the self is all that matters. The self is all that we have to live for. 

We know as Christians that living in that way, living only for ourselves, is the path to death. It's not the path to life. Life comes when we look outside of ourselves for our identity. When we look to Jesus, the true image of God. He is the true image of God that Adam failed to be, but that we were created for. Insofar as the image of God, being an image-bearer is our identity. We find it, not by looking within ourselves but by looking to Jesus, who is the true image of God. 

When we escape the burden of narcissism and autonomy that's such a temptation in our culture, we escape it by being embedded in communities. Our churches. By being reminded that everything doesn't revolve around me, which is a radical proposition in today's world. 

I'll finish with this. A couple years ago, I received an email from a guy who had read Hipster Christianity and the subject line said something like, "From a lapsed, lazy, back-slidden, confused Christian." I think he was from England. And he wrote this. "Still do, but that doesn't mean I want to be seeing those things where I very occasionally worship. The point of church and faith is that they are sanctuaries from ourselves. They are places where we can lay it all down and know that God hears us, that he forgives us, and that we are only saved by his grace." 

I just love that. It's such a great reminder that as the church in this world, our appeal comes insofar as it offers something different. It offers something alternative. Whether it's in this hyper-technology oriented world ... We can be a refuge from that. In this narcissistic world where it's all about the self, we can be a refuge from that that puts people in something bigger than themselves. We need to see our countercultural identity not as a liability, but an asset. Right?

We need to embrace our abnormal, peculiar, alien status not for the sake of being weird, or cool, or countercultural, but for the sake of the world. For the sake of mission, so that Jesus will be made known in the world. So that's it. Thank you. 

Any questions? Yeah?

Speaker 3: I really appreciate your point about presence. I think that's a really, that's key to our [inaudible 00:30:19] now. An actual physical [inaudible 00:30:22]

Brett McCracken: Right. 

Speaker 3: Being in the church, I'm constantly asking this question. Do I develop a structure for something, a formal structure, or do I try to empower this to happen on a more individual basis? [inaudible 00:30:40] Everyone's favorite term, an organic basis, whatever that means. 

As you look at it from a high level, do you see any natural benefit encouraging pastors to thinking programmatic structural opportunities to create physical intrigue or how to create ways to create those opportunities? [inaudible 00:31:01] progressives types of pastors and leaders.

Brett McCracken: Yeah. That's a good question. I mean, I don't think that highly systemized programming is necessarily the answer in kind of introducing, like "the new program for physical interaction in our church." I don't think that's the answer. I think it's just like, subtle ways to emphasize rather than de-emphasize the physicality. Liturgy, taking the Lord's supper every week. Doing it in a way that emphasizes the communal aspect. Emphasizing things like praying for one another. Laying hands on one another. That's just a small way that we can be physical in community and experience the power of the Holy Spirit in a way that is physical and powerful. 

We do that a lot in my church where, sometimes even in the middle of the service we'll have a call to like, "If there's anyone here who's feeling burdened in this particular area, raise your hand," and the people around them lay hands on them and pray. And singing, you know, just the physical act of singing. All those bodily things that are kind of normal and we've done for centuries. I think it's just a matter of not forsaking those but actually leaning into them more. I think it's gonna become a real attractive thing, I think, is my guess for millennials and generations who are hungry for the physical and the embodied experience. 


Speaker 4: What thoughts would you have for a church that is considering building a new worship space in light of architecture, [crosstalk 00:32:49], price tag, quality [crosstalk 00:32:54].

Brett McCracken: Yeah. I mean obviously there's the constraints of budget. A building is better than no building. You kind of do what you can with what you have to work with, but I think there's inexpensive ways you can emphasize aesthetics. If you're gonna have a carpet, if you're gonna have pews. You're gonna have to have these practical things anyway so just being mindful of ways to not go the cheapest route in everything, but invest in some things for the sake of beauty. Yeah, I mean it's hard because we don't ... Our evangelical churches don't have the huge resources like the Catholic church has for buildings, and they put their money in that area a lot, which I wish we could do. I wish there was a central world bank of Protestantism that could fund amazing churches. But yeah, I would just invest in that area. I think it's worth it. 


Speaker 5: So I think the counter-position you hear a lot of times in church leadership against investing in aesthetics would be is that's not mission. You could take x number of dollars and try to plant another church. [inaudible 00:34:17] missions. How would you weigh those things and kind of balance them when you're having those conversations? [crosstalk 00:34:22]

Brett McCracken: Yeah. I mean, I think beautiful space, sacred space is missional. Going back to the physicality question, I think that beautiful buildings and space is part of that physical draw. As people increasingly live working from home, always living through screens, beautiful spaces are appealing. I mean, I've noticed a surge in interest in nature and the outdoors and I think that's part of it. That fills that void of the physicality of the world. I think architecture and beautiful spaces can do that too. I would just pitch it as "This is missional. There's gonna be people that wouldn't come into a church that will come in to experience the awe of this space." 

I think that example I used earlier about La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, I mean millions of people visit that church every year who aren't believers at all but its such an awe-inspiring, beautiful space that its missional. There's people coming in, darkening the doors of a church who wouldn't ever otherwise go into a church. So I think architecture can be missional too.


Speaker 6: [inaudible 00:35:45] value of presence or the word.

Brett McCracken: Mm-hmm (affirmative). 

Speaker 6: [inaudible 00:35:51] which coming from Seattle, the West Coast, we're in warehouses. You couldn't see the sign that says church [crosstalk 00:36:02] for where we are.

I think there is something that presence means not only inside the church building. What are you seeing churches do to [inaudible 00:36:15].

But how can we get out there and earn that trust? [inaudible 00:36:33] How can we see the outside of the church is where the presence [inaudible 00:36:43] 

Brett McCracken: Yeah, that's really good. I think that it's so good that we don't think about the presence that we have to offer the world that's just our church buildings and our insular communities. All of us are present in our jobs, in our engagement outside of Sundays and we are the real presence of Christ to the world. There's a book that David Fitch wrote called Faithful Presence that came out last year that I would really recommend. He does a great job talking about this intermediate space. So there's the space of church, there's the space of the secular world, and then there's this area where the Venn diagram overlaps, and that's also a site of Christ's presence, when Christians are in McDonald's doing this kind of communal presence with secular people. 

So yeah, I think we have to have a vision for that as our churches ... Our churches need to be thinking about, "How can we get outside of our walls?" Whether it's partnering with social justice organizations or artistic organizations, finding ways to bring ourselves and vis-a-vis ourselves, the presence of Christ into secular spaces and kind of being that bridge, that kind of overlap. I think that's a beautiful thing when that happens and I think too often, it doesn't happen. We have this divide of the church and the culture. That's largely what we're talking about today, is how can we bridge that gap in these intermediate liminal spaces?

I like coffee shops. A lot of churches are starting coffee shops that are open during the week and people who don't go to the church can come and spend time in that space. I think that's just one example that comes to mind. Like galleries, like Mike mentioned, that would be another example. Ways to create space outside of the church that can be a bridge. Or using your church venue for outside events. Why not use your church sanctuary as a concert venue for traveling musicians who aren't even Christian? That brings the secular into our space and creates another one of those liminal meeting points. Sometimes the liminal spaces in life are the most life-giving. That's where the most beauty comes. 

Speaker 6: It seems like [inaudible 00:39:17] If we're gonna do art class, at the end of the day it's gotta be a picture of redemption. Those things are good [inaudible 00:39:33] but if I don't have some explicit theological thing to walk away with and show the Gospel, it's not viable. Especially [inaudible 00:39:45] do you see sort of that [crosstalk 00:39:50] 

Brett McCracken: Yeah, I think that's a challenge. Making the pitch to pastors and church staffs that this is worth doing, even if we don't have like a evangelistic message at the end of it. But yeah, I would argue that it is worth doing. There's a church in Omaha that I was at recently. City Light, I think it's called. They're creating a gallery space as well. They're in a very artistic part of Omaha and it's meant to be this space where literally the artist and the community can come and display their work, no strings attached. You're not gonna get evangelized. You're not gonna get preached at. It's just our way of loving you and sharing our space. We own this building. This is an unused room. It's gonna be an art gallery for the community. So yeah, I think giving to our culture and not having an expectation of receiving by way of their conversion immediately is itself, modeling grace and modeling the Gospel. Just this unconditional gift. 

All right. Any other questions? 

All right. Thank you guys. Thank you.