By Eric Rauch—11/20/2008
As a follow-up to last week’s article, I wanted to stress the point that Christians constantly seem to miss in their quest for cultural change and significance. As I discussed last week, and as has been continuously taught by American Vision for thirty years, societal change on the grand scale cannot happen without change first coming to individuals, families, churches, and communities. This may seem absurdly obvious at first glance, but too often I think Christians are so focused on events and happenings at the national level, that they overlook the very mission field that God has given them in their own homes and neighborhoods.
It has been said that the greatest contributor to the destruction of local communities was the invention of the electric garage-door. The automatic opening and closing of the largest door to our homes with the touch of a button has become the gateway to our “caves of isolation.” Neighbors no longer need to spend face-time with each other as they walk from driveway to front door, they simply glide into their homes on four wheels and safely escape into their homes without ever having to confront the family next door. While I think this blame on the garage-door is a bit simplistic, it does illustrate a very good point. Just because you live next door to someone does not necessarily mean they are your neighbor. I’m sure many of us live next to people that we know no better than people that live on the other side of the world. Although we see them on a regular basis as we zip in and out of our caves and offer the obligatory hand-wave, we actually don’t know anything about them. We live within 100 feet of total strangers and yet we can’t figure out why the culture is in the state that it is.
As Andy Crouch points out in his last part of Culture-Making, influence and change happens on the levels of three, twelve, and 120. The three is the core, the heart of any group or organization that comes together for any unifying reason. It may be a family, business partners, neighbors, or church members. Each of these original three have another three that will share the original vision in some capacity and make up the life-blood of the organization. As these twelve go forth and work hard to fulfill the vision of the first three, more and more people will catch the vision and join in as supporting cast members. These 120, whether a small-business, a church, or a community action group, is the optimal number for being able to maintain the vision of the three while still avoiding the communication problems that seem to plague groups of larger sizes. This 3, 12, and 120 ratio is what is severely lacking in the church today. The mega-church mentality of numbers over effectiveness is causing the church as a whole to lose sight of the possible in favor of the impossible-overlooking small-scale and local and fixating on national or global. 24-hour news networks make events on the other side of the country seem far more important and significant than the immediate needs of those in our own churches and communities.
This is not to say that national and world events are unimportant and beyond the scope of the Gospel, but it does mean that we as individuals and families need to keep our focus where we can make the most impact, changing and bringing change to our local areas with a global, beatific vision. Each of us have a three, a twelve, and a 120. It is up to each of us to identify where they are and what the mission is. Take a look at your family, your neighborhood, your church, your local government. What can you be doing to influence change and live the Gospel out in your local environment. It is not only one thing that will change the world. Homeschooling, politics, entertainment, and the family are all noble causes and need to be addressed and practiced from a Christian worldview, but each of these by themselves are not THE answer. All of them, and a hundred others, are the answer to a cultural reformation. Each of us play a part in the solution, but we are not the solution in and of ourselves. Each of us has a calling, a God-given talent that we are especially-suited to do in this world. Too many of us are chasing areas and topics that are not our callings, we are forcing ourselves to fill a role that we were not meant to fill. The Gospel is global in its application, as the hymn we will soon be singing tells us: “He comes to make His blessings flow, far as the curse is found.” We must be able to identify where the curse is found in our local areas and work to eradicate it, using the 3, the 12, and the 120 that God has given you.