Let me give you a few examples to consider that demonstrate how the Church can engage the culture – penetrate it and actually cultivate/create new cultural realities.
Proms and Such – Each year across America, High School students participate in an annual ritual – prom! Girls in prom dresses and guys in tuxedoes now fill the photo streams of Facebook timelines and Instagram postings. What can the Church contribute to something so ingrained in our culture? Here in Arlington, I would offer two examples of how Christians have affected the “prom culture.” One – our church offers free prom dresses to girls who can’t afford them. It has been a huge hit. Lots of girls benefit each year from this. Second – parents in our community (many of them are Christians) decided years ago to offer an alternative to the students for their “after-prom” activities. We all know that many students have found themselves in less-than-desirable situations in the wee hours of the morning after prom. Here in Arlington, at numerous schools, the kids go to an all-night program at school that allows them to have fun and earn real dollars to purchase items that will be useful for college. It is a great idea – and both of our kids benefited greatly from it. It is an example of creating culture.
Caring for Women – Years ago there was no place for abused women in Arlington to seek shelter. Our church recognized the need and did something about it. We established what is now known as The Women’s Shelter here in Arlington. It is a safe haven for abused women. Countless women have been protected and their lives rescued through this entity. It is a trusted partner in the overall care for families available in the broader culture of our community. It was initiated by the Church. It has been embraced by the society at large.
Levitt Pavilion – Our church owned the city block directly across the street from City Hall in downtown Arlington. We entered into a land-swap agreement with the City of Arlington that allowed the City to take possession of that block. The desire was to enter into a partnership with the Levitt Foundation to construct an outdoor concert venue that would be of cultural benefit to the entire community. We supported this endeavor and now the Levitt Pavilion is a vital part of the cultural environment of our city and has been a true blessing to the broader society.