Exegeting Your Culture

The more Austin planters I meet, the more I am encouraged about what God is doing in our city. Today I met Nathaniel Binion, lead planter for Kerygma. Nathan brings a good heart and head to Austin. I’m excited to see his plant unfold.

Another shameless plug for PlantR, newer planters have a great way reinvigorating older planters. They get more up-to-date stats and bring fresh ideas to the table. Older planters can pass on their experience and limited wisdom. The cross-pollination is critical for a flowering of the gospel in your city. As your plant grows, it is easy to assume you have “a handle” on the culture of your city, suburb, or whatever. A good missionary never arrives in cultural exegesis but is always exegeting their culture. To that end, here are some general and specific suggestions for continuing cultural exegesis:

  • Ask your neighbors and fellow citizens lots of questions. Don’t interrogate them but show sincere, intentional interest in them and the info they possess. Anecdotal information about your city and fellow citizens is unbeatable. Ask them the what, how, and why questions: What do you think is broken in our neighborhood or city? What gets you excited about life? What do you think should be done about economic decline in our city? why do you drive across town to do X? why do you dislike traditional Christianity. Feel free to add to this in the comments.
  • Read local, independent publications. Very often the stuff that looks like a waste of time contains some of the most clear voices from within your culture. Get local (not just national) opinions and reviews on movies, books, culture and politics. For Austin: Statesman, The Chronicle, Misprint, Austin 360 blog, the Austinist, etc. Feel free to add to this list in the comments.
  • Gather historical information on your city and neighborhood. How did your city come to be the way it is? What political and cultural and economic issues have shaped the ethos and beliefs of your city? Read local authors and histories. Austin: Writing Austin’s Lives, History of Austin DVD, Bob Bullock History Museum, Neighborhood Assns, etc.
  • Participate in local art, music, and business. Support local business, go to art shows, listen to local bands. Examples are endless in Austin.