Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pop Culture Parables

Last month, I was talking to a woman who had just found out I was a Christian. She was very curious to understand why I believed and how I could maintain my faith in such a cruel world. I would later find out that her only connection to God had been through the Catholic Church, through a loving grandmother, who had died when she was a teenager. The day her grandmother died, so had her small measure of faith.

She asked me all the usual questions, several variations of: “How can there be a God in such a cruel world with so much suffering?” I was just deciding how I should respond; mentally going over my list of options. None of them are perfect, but the Spirit can use any of them. The trick is finding the one that speaks to the heart you are addressing. I could tell that the friends that were with me were silently praying for this woman and what she needed to hear.

Then she added an example to support her cause. “It’s like that movie, The Fifth Element. Did you see it?” I smiled and said that I had. We went on to talk about the themes in that movie—how it shows a world full of suffering and evil, but how the movie also has a “perfect being” willing to die for that world; willing to show it true love.

Many Christians have a hard time engaging in the popular culture of today. Many even think that is a bad thing to do. The problem is, there is truth there for those who are able to see it. For many it is the only connection we have to bring them back to the truth of scripture. Often we can illustrate God’s truth through the stories out there in a way that they would never understand if we took them straight to Scripture from the start.

This particular woman is now “eating up” the copy of the Bible we gave her. Scripture is still the best source of truth, but sometimes we need to make sense to people before they will trust that truth.


  1. Brilliant. Thanks for sharing the story. I knew your obsession with movies would pay off.

  2. Awesome!

    You have that movie, right? Can I borrow it?

  3. our team just read "The Celtic Way of Evangelism" by George Hunter. One of the things Hunter addresses is the Celts' (Patrick, Columba and other 'British' missionaries) ability to speak to people's middle concerns in life, the areas and affect that pop culture so often hits. The Roman church in its gift for administration and its institution-ality often missed this connection in people's lives resulting in a people perhaps converted in actions but not at the core of their being (not always, just sometimes - I give props to the RC mission movement throughout history).
    Anyway, we're asking the same questions and considering mission in the same light. The step we find ourselves in is discerning the local culture in order to best engage those around us in common, popular, and 'middle' issue kind of ways. (Sorry for the length.)
    Thanks for your thoughts, as always! :)

  4. Thanks everyone!

    Jay, to my way of thinking ministry in postmodern cultures is not really different from the way it has ever been. It is always about story, it just that these days the stories have changed. It is through the stories people tell and build in their own lives that we connect with each other.

    In many ways, evangelical efforts over the past 50 years or so have been designed and built around a "sales" mentality. I like that we are getting away from that mindset and getting back to a more human, relational, sharing life approach.


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