(Photo: Mars Hill Church)
IRVINE, Calif. – Christian hip-hop star Lecrae (Lecrae Moore) set his musical artist persona aside during a leadership conference recently to talk about the subject of engaging American culture in a non-typical, yet Christian way in order to further the Gospel.
"I think we don't engage culture because we're scared. We don't want it corrupting our kids. I think we're scared because ultimately we're still caught up in a sacred-secular divide," said Lecrae, who is also a ministry leader, to a crowd of more than 2,000 church leaders Thursday at the Resurgence Conference (R12) at Mariners Church in Irvine, Calif.
"We are still caught up in the reality that everything is broken up in two and if you go too far here you are going to get messed up," he said. "There is a sacred-secular divide that hinders us from impacting culture."
Lecrae was one of one of eight well-known Christian leaders speaking at the event geared for young pastors and ministry leaders. He took a break just long enough to give his message while traveling in the U.S. for the "Unashamed Tour 2012: Come Alive" concert series featuring Reach Records label mates Andy Mineo, Trip Lee, Tedashi, KB, Pro and other artists.
"We (Christians) are great at talking about salvation and sanctification. We are clueless when it comes to art, ethics, science, and culture. Christianity is the whole truth about everything. It's how we deal with politics. It's how we deal with science. It's how we deal with TV and art. We can't leave people to their own devices," Lecrae said during his talk at the conference.
"We just demonize everything. If it doesn't fit in the category of sanctification or salvation it's just evil."
Lecrae said that society in the U.S. is moving away from "this traditional, evangelical, conservative America."
"Relativism and secular humanism permeates the world that we live in." He asked, "How do we engage this culture? How do we raise up people to engage this culture?"
Lecrae said that in the area he lives in there are a lot of people, who because of the activity they are engaged in, many Christians would avoid altogether.
"There's homosexuality rampant. There's crime and all kinds of things going on around me. I take my kids to the park and there's two men kissing, people selling drugs, and I'm grateful," he said. "I'm not trying to escape. I want to be in the midst of that because I need to be. That's where I need to be."
He added, "I believe that the reason why the church typically doesn't engage culture is because we are scared of it. We're scared it's going to somehow jump on us and corrupt us. We're scared it's going to somehow mess up our good thing. So we consistently move further and further away from the corruption, further and further away from the crime, further and further away from the post-modernity, further and further away from the relativism and secular humanism and we want to go to a safe place with people just like you. We want to be comfortable."
Lecrae emphasized that God created many things in this world that were intended for good, but have been misused.
"I'm talking about using things that are typically used for evil and showing how they can be used for God's glory," he explained. "Things are not of themselves evil. It's [about] structure and direction. God has structured things for His glory and His goodness and humanity is directing it in evil or good ways.
"If you are going to engage culture it's about taking the things, and the things you are skilled at, and asking 'How can I direct them in a good way?'
"I'm not saying let's redeem the world and create this utopian planet," Lecrae continued. "I'm saying let's demonstrate what Jesus had done in us so the world may see a new way, God's way, Jesus' way … the picture of redemption that Jesus has done in us. So Jesus redeems us and we desire to go to the world and demonstrate that so that others can see what redemption looks like."