Review: Culture Making By Andy Crouch

January 11th, 2010

By Mike Kupferer  Andy Crouch has spent years looking at and being involved in culture, and in Culture Making he draws on that experience to help fellow Christians better understand the culture(s) around them.  Throughout the book, you notice one of the ongoing themes is the fact that Crouch believes, ultimately, that culture is not about us, but, rather, is about God.

Crouch begins the book by talking about what culture is and what culture is not.  Many Christians usually refer to culture when talking about all of the negative aspects of the world around us.  Culture cannot be truly understood in such a broad framework.  According to Crouch, culture “defines the horizons of the possible and the impossible in very concrete, tangible ways.” 

Culture can be as small as your immediate family or as large as the world.  For most of us, we are part of multiple cultures and have an opportunity to influence and change, to some degree, only a fraction of them.  “Real culture making,” Crouch writes,”not to mention cultural transformation, begins with a decision about which cultural world – or, better, worlds – we will attempt to make something of.” 

As I read through this book, I found myself constantly being challenged and stretched.  Crouch's writing forced me to dig deeper and go beyond the surface of my usual thinking.  In chapter four, Crouch offers an alternative to our usual tendency of either condemning, critiquing, copying or consuming culture.  He contends that we should be cultural cultivators and creators, offering “something new, something that will persuade our neighbors to set aside some existing set of cultural goods for our new proposal.”   What are you offering that will persuade people to switch to your proposal from what they already know?

After finishing this book, there is one thing I know – Culture Making needs to be in the hands of anyone who works with youth.  Every youth worker needs to pick up a copy, read it alongside her youth team and apply the principles to the ministry and your family.  As you begin to cultivate and create new culture for your ministry, you need to remember this, “Cultural goods cannot be imposed – they can only be proposed.”  May God use you to propose cultural goods within your ministry that will bring him glory and allow students to become more like Christ. 


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