Times a changin’ folks. I smiled this week as my daughter danced in the living room to the jams of Earth, Wind, and Fire. I smiled because she was so happy and because she is a pretty good dancer, but I also smiled because she was enjoying music from my mother’s generation. In some small way, this sentiment connects the two of them and all of us.
My daughter and her dancing came to mind as I sat in a bowling alley this weekend and watched several videos featuring teeny boppers and millennials, most of whom I had never seen or heard of before. She doesn’t know these bands or their songs. She may not ever know them but it was interesting for me to watch and listen to because I enjoy music, and I saw the artistic changes that comes with the passing of time.
Music documents our cultural transitions. Music is one way to determine the pulse of a nation and the attitudes of her people. I understand how Motown hits and professional images changed the way black folks looked at themselves, and how others viewed them. I lived through the paradigm shifts among young people when hip hop established itself as a genre of music. I pay attention.
When I think about mentoring, I sometimes wonder if Christians are paying attention to the changes that are happening in their own communities, our country, and the world. Are we aware?
Awareness doesn’t mean simply pointing out what is wrong with our culture. In his book, Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling, Andy Crouch acknowledges that Christians normally respond to culture in four ways, “Condemning culture…Critiquing culture…Copying culture…consuming culture.” He continues to build his case that living as image bearers of God and redeemed people of the gospel requires that we recover our creative calling by creating culture that is good and glorifies God.
Mentoring effectively requires that we learn about our changing culture and complicated world. It is not enough for us to see what is wrong in our culture and criticize, critique, or condemn it. Taking that posture is easy and somewhat slothful. If the gospel is to transcend beyond the four walls of our churches, Bible studies, and small group conversations, then we must understand the realities that lost people face every day. What are their challenges? Struggles? Priorities? Beliefs? After contemplating those initial questions, we must also consider how the gospel seeks into those situations.
Mentoring calls us to pay attention to the good and bad in our culture. Mentoring calls us to consider our perspective and actively listen to the perspectives of others. Mentoring is relevance—being present in the world while not conforming to the cultural norms (John 17:15-18). Mentoring for God’s kingdom purposes is living the whole gospel as we engage and connect in the world. So while I don’t care for sports, politics, or celebrity gossip, on any given day, I do have an idea of the “hot topics” in several of those areas. That small awareness may be a conversation starter at lunch which could lead to a promising mentoring experience or relationship.
Do you pay attention to our changing culture? How does awareness impact your approach to mentoring?
© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2014