Adaptable cultural forms?

Our challenge is to determine whether the cultural form that dominates how we do life when gathered for worship and scattered for mission is best suited for evangelizing the people in our community. This is a crucial matter because even declining churches are often unable to see that the cultural form through which they mediate the gospel each week is failing to reach people. Some churches and leaders do not see their failure because the few Christians who attend their church do so because they enjoy it, find it meaningful, and therefore do not consider that they are a declining cultural minority.

Reformission Christians and churches exist to perpetuate the gospel and should be swift to change their cultural forms if they are not the most beneficial for achieving that goal. Mark Driscoll, Radical Reformission.

This is a curious conclusion for Driscoll given his adoption of Ken Myers’ analysis of culture on the preceding page. Ken Myers believes that culture exists in three forms: high culture (marked by a connection to traditions of the past, which requires training, patience, reflection, and a cultivated ability to enjoy and appreciate), folk culture (emerges from a particular community of people as an expression and extension of their lives together) and pop culture (intended for mass audiences and lacks the sophistication of high culture and the personal touch of folk culture). Driscoll has this to say about pop culture:

While pop culture is more accessible, it also requires less engagement and is more fleeting, trite, disposable, and faddish. It values the individual over the community, newness over tradition, and instant experience over patience.

Driscoll is totally against people attaching moral values to the cultural norm they prefer, but given his analysis of pop culture, I think a pretty negative moral value should be attached to (some forms of) it.

If the maxim “what you attract people with, you attract people to” is true, adopting pop culture for a church’s cultural norm is problematic. If the goal of Christian discipleship is to move people away from that which is individualistic, new for the sake of being new, instant experience, etc., why use it to attract people when they need to repent of it?

I don’t get it.