Everyday Theology: How to Read Cultural Texts and Interpret Trends
Edited by Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Charles A. Anderson, Michael J. Sleasman. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007. 285 pages, $29.99, paperback.
Most of our churches in the Fellowship are not missional, but communal in orientation. That is, their primary orientation towards the community in which they are placed is inward focused, seeking to draw people into the programs of the church. On the other hand, the primary goal of a missional church with respect to their broader context is to seek relevant and impacting involvement outside of the programs of the church. The communal oriented church addresses the surrounding community with approval, caution or rebuke through the stance of an outsider. The missional church seeks significant involvement with the community in order to speak as an insider. Such a church takes a missionary stance of seeking understanding, involvement and acceptance with people outside of the church in order to speak with relevance to them.
Most of our churches in the Fellowship are not missional, but communal in orientation
A missional stance requires skill to recognize, interpret and respond to the concerns of people who do not believe church is relevant to their lives. Kevin J. Vanhoozer, a research professor of systematic theology at Trinity Theological Divinity School, has made an important contribution to this end through the recent book, Everyday Theology. The book is designed to provide guidance on “how to read cultural texts and interpret trends” as the book’s subtitle states. By “texts” Vanhoozer does not mean merely written texts, but all aspects of culture, including music, art, and architecture, that communicate a message. By interpreting these messages correctly we gain a window onto the yearnings of the human heart. Vanhoozer provides an introductory essay explaining “the Method” for successful interpretation. The remaining chapters, which include an analysis of Eminem’s music, the grocery checkout line and mega-church architecture, are products of his students that provide insight into how understanding culture allows us to shape the gospel message in such a way that it speaks to the people who need to hear the message of life.
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