The Church has a culture all its own and is truly different in many ways from popular culture. Church culture has many of the same elements, such as music and language, but it serves as the alternative to the prevailing cultural winds that are subject to personal whims. Church culture does not change according to the popular tastes of people. At least it shouldn’t. And although many churches have allowed much of popular culture to infiltrate their worship and have adopted many of its techniques of manipulation, most churches have maintained connection to their roots by keeping and maintaining the culture of speaking and proclaiming the language of heaven and eternity into the hearts and minds of the worshiping assembly. And that is as it should be!
You and I are confronted each day by the culture in which we find ourselves. Some of it is good; some of it is not. Either way, it’s very fickle and it changes its prominent features quite a bit. But it operates under an unwritten assumption, and that is, people have wants and desires they want to fulfill and seek gratification of their whims.
Church culture doesn’t operate that way and it was never meant to do so. It has a different assumption, and that is, people on a day to day basis are largely disconnected from their Creator because of their seeking satisfaction of their selfish desires which often leads to ruin. It has the objective of redemption by giving to people a citizenship which is in this world but not of this world. In short, church culture is for the sole purpose of giving Jesus Christ and him crucified for the forgiveness of sins. Everything in the church’s worship is for that purpose. It doesn’t try to sell what is to be given freely. It instills faith within the heart of a person through Word and Sacrament. It does not seek the applause received by celebrities, but instead gives all glory, honor, and praise to the God who gives life and forgiveness, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
As Christians we will always live in the tension between the cultures in which we live. But it’s good to remember that the culture of the Church points to a reality that will never perish, spoil, or fade. We take that reality into the world to show a more excellent way of love and forgiveness.