Leader to Leader, Ministry

Using Culture

March 24, 2014 | Posted by Billy Brath

X-mas is a perfect way to mark Jesus’ birthday. Halloween is one of the most Christian of all the holidays in America. White wedding dresses & wedding receptions are heavenly.

Let’s face it, mainstream American culture is far from being Christian. (I won’t spend time convincing you of that here, just turn on your TV.) I have met many people my age (32) in downtown Orlando (where my ministries are based) who honestly have no idea who Jesus really is, what He did, or what the Church does. These are folks who celebrate Christian holidays without even knowing it. They wear crosses because they are trendy. They take off work to celebrate the Gospel being brought to Ireland… well they take off work to celebrate on March 17.

Because of this, I’ve begun using “seemingly” secular traditions and holidays to teach people about Jesus and the Gospel while helping my congregation do the same. Sometimes we as Christians have to creatively spin what culture is doing to get to the Gospel (or the Law in the case of shows like “Revenge”.) Often though, what society thinks is just a random human tradition or Hallmark Holiday is actually Christian in its origin; we just need to educate.

This method is not to replace the solid formula of Christian outreach: building relationships, sharing God’s love, proclaiming Jesus in all we say and do. This is just one tool to use when reaching out to a population that is increasingly distant from the Church yet still wading in its traditions. Certainly apply this method in your context, uplift your ministry partners to do the same and teach/train in a loving way.

Here are some of my favorites, beginning with those mentioned above:

  • X-mas is a more traditional way to write Christmas. “X” being the Greek letter “chi” which is the first letter of “Christ” in Greek.
  • Halloween is the evening part of All Saints Day. (Just like we start celebrating X-mas the night before.) Death, the demons, & the devil have lost their power! So make fun of them!
  • White wedding dress: Jesus calls the Church His bride and He has washed us pure white.
  • Wedding Reception: Wedding feast as it’s called in scripture, the most often used descriptor for heaven. Wedding receptions are practice for heaven.
  • St. Patrick, St. Valentine, St. Nickolas… All real saints who did awesome stuff! Teach them and celebrate!
  • Hanukkah, Passover, other Jewish holidays… many have faded into traditions, and the biblical stories aren’t taught. Celebrate them! (Hanukkah is my favorite. Go get the new CPH Apocrypha!)

Blessings to you as you reach out to your community and don’t forget to collaborate!

Billy Brath
Billy Brath serves as Director, Ministry Support Advancement, of Lutheran Church Extension Fund. Helping leaders and ministries revive their sense of purpose and reach their creative potential is a great joy for Billy.