Definition for Cultural Engagement
“The student demonstrates appreciation for the many dimensions of ongoing public-square and global conversations related to social, cultural, religious, biblical, and theological concerns, and develops a biblical Christian perspective that results in knowledgeable, compassionate dialogue with appropriate evangelistic engagement.”
Overall Reflection Statement for Cultural Engagement
For my competence in cultural engagement, I am submitting several items to substantiate my efforts to engage with the world outside of the walls of the church where I serve. My personal vehicles for speaking into the town square of social media take the form of video devotionals and blog posts. I have begun meeting with some other pastors (affectionately known as the Dead Prophets Society) for the purpose of fellowship, encouragement, and cooperation. I am including a video reflection about that endeavor. I have also linked below to another page celebrating the amazing year of partnership I led our church to undertake with a local elementary school. But I have also included a link to a paper that documents a learning experience that really help strip away some of the preconceptions I had about how I interact with others. All in all, this emphasis was something that had been growing for some time and I am grateful for this discipline of representing that process.
Artifacts With Descriptions
I have made a number of blog posts and video devotionals with the intention of cultural engagement. Here are a few:
A Letter To My Fellow Pastors was written in the wake of another successful pastor’s suicide.
Just Nice. This blog post reflects on lyrics from Sondheim’s “Into The Woods:” You’re so nice. You’re not good. You’re not bad. You’re just nice.
Of Potty Training And Theology highlights the nature of God’s grace toward us and what an absurd and glorious reality that truly is.
My brothers and I formed the Dead Prophets Society for mutual encouragement, support, and partnership in kingdom work. Here is a brief video reflection on this endeavor:
See some of the great things that took place through our partnership with Horace Mann Elementary School this year! It was such a tremendous season that we were able to share with these great people.
Spirit of the Rainforest: A Grateful Response – This paper was written as a critical response exercise examining Mark Ritchie’s compelling but uncomfortable work, “Spirit of the Rainforest: A Yanomamo Shaman’s Story.” It challenged my understanding of the essence of the gospel message and my understanding of the workings of the spiritual realities that are beyond our temporal understanding. This project was an important step in my journey of learning to gracefully engage with the world around me.
I believe that the cultural engagement emphasis has been one of personal growth in a couple of significant ways. It has helped me learn to look at the world around me with the simple awareness that I not only have a voice but a responsibility to speak. While I am still hesitant to speak about a lot of things, I am convinced that I no longer have the option to remain silent. I must step into the conversations around me with the wonder of grace as my rallying cry.
At the same time, I believe that I have tested and embraced an idea that I first heard articulated by Andy Stanley in a small group question and answer session several years ago. He suggested that we should “never give away influence unnecessarily.” There are many things about which I must speak, but I should do the hard work of finding ways to guard carefully the influence I have been given.
Lifelong Development Statement
As I have grown through the experiences documented above, I acknowledge that the biggest hurdle is the discipline of doing some of them consistently. Looking forward, I want to continue to work toward leveraging the existing vehicles with a more consistent rhythm. Recognizing that much of this area comes pretty naturally out of my own creativity, the discipline of writing something daily is, I believe, a key factor in my long-term success in cultural engagement. Therefore I intend to develop a daily habit of writing—whether it ever gets published or not.
I also want to branch out to some much more diverse conversations in our community. I am participating in the Leadership Duncan program that is run by the local Chamber of Commerce. The program is designed to look behind the curtains at several dimensions of the community to see how things are done with a view toward making things better. I believe this will be a great avenue of growth and will provide many opportunities and insights into how to more effectively engage with the community in which I live and serve.