Saturday, April 29, 2006

Missional Marxism?

With all the careful attention given to demographics research by cultural critics and missiologists alike, it seems, to me at least, that amid the myriad of categories we stick people into (Boomers, Gen-Xers, D.I.N.K.s, urban hipsters, Bobos, wealthy white suburbanites) we Christians have forgotten the most important demographic cultural label of all: Adamic.

According to the Bible, all people fall into one of two categories: "in Adam" or "in Christ."

This amazing (re)discovery ought to revolutionize our approach to outreach and evangelism. Not only will it save us countless hours that otherwise would have been spent calculating the effects of our PowerPoint presentations on Asian-Americans versus Anglo-Americans, it will help us streamline our approach by giving us an understanding of our target audience that is actually relevant.

You see, focussing on whether someone makes $25,000 a year and drives a Gremlin or $75,000 a year and drives an Audi is a very shallow way to treat people. As if our detailed analyses of the incomes and spending habits of the people we're trying to reach could really capture who they are (what are we, Marxists? Pretty soon we'll be calling the former the proletariat and the latter the bourgeoisie).

But when we move beyond the surfacy and superficial, we discover that all people -- black, white, rich, or poor -- have one common denominator that makes all their apparent differences pretty meaningless at the end of the day: They are in Adam, and their culture is Adamic.

(And if you think I'm painting with too broad a brush, go read Eph. 2:1-3; 4:17-19.)

Once we recognize this, we can spend less time trying to figure out which TV shows to integrate into our multimedia presentations ("Is The O.C. too white? Is The Shield too edgy?"), and we can spend more time dealing with the tainted presuppositions that our fallen hearers come in with every Sunday (such as: Jesus is supposed to give me a more fulfilling life, or, Church is supposed to meet all my needs). But unfortunately for our hearers, those are often our presuppositions too.

So I'm all for attention to demographics and contextualization, just as long as we focus on what really matters.