(I sort of approached this topic here.)

There is much that is said about the church interacting with the culture, being culturally relevant and being able to appeal to the savvy postmodern generations.

But what about here?

The area where I live almost missed out on modernism, much less postmodernism. Think of the Deep South in the pre-hippy 1960s, but without any premise of gentility or manners. Think of second-world poverty. Think of a place where having a big truck is a pretty big deal, and you’ve got a pretty good snapshot of the population around here.

These people are not hipsters. A significant number of them are the first generation to attend college. Most are barely scraping by on what little income they can come across. These are poor people for whom concepts like moral relativism aren’t an issue, because everything in their lives is an absolute. They absolutely believe in right and wrong, and they can also tell you when the absolute last day is they can pay their bills.

So how are you culturally relevant to this kind of culture? While the rest of American Christianity was evolving into neutered, blunted, liberal Christian-ish somethingortheother or was really getting into synthesized praise music, the churches here stayed the same, employing the basic scare-‘em-into-Heaven fire and brimstone technique that drove people down the isle and converted them into practitioners of America’s 1950s- and 1960s patriotic sorta-Christianity. Only recently has that begun to change, but the attitudes behind it continue to linger.

The folks who don’t go to church around here aren’t going to fall for some kind of gimmicky “We’re a casual church, you can wear shorts and sandals” program, and cool music isn’t going to draw them in either, even if the band is rockin’ and the praise is hoppin’. Likewise, they don’t want to go to their parents’ old church and sing out of the Broadman hymnal and get yelled at about repenting. In a nutshell, the people who don’t go to church in this area don’t go because they don’t see the point.

And that is what is absolutely heartbreaking thing, because — the reality of it is — the Gospel IS always relevant. It’s not only about redeeming your soul, but your entire life. It’s not just about going to Heaven, though that is certainly an incentive. Somehow, in an effort to save people’s souls and then assure them of their salvation, the entire southern church culture has missed showing their converts the point of it all, which leaves you with a town full of people who have been there, done that and don’t care to think about it anymore. They don’t want to get high on a praise service; they want to go hunting.

I don’t mean to sound damning. It’s not like I’m on the outside on this one. This is just an observation I’ve made lately.

How does one reach the nominally churched in the South?

(By the way, I don’t actually have a problem with casual wear in church in and of itself, or, for that matter, a cool praise band. I doubt that Jesus cares what you wear. If you want to dress up, that’s fine — Jesus knows your heart.)

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