(Much from this post comes after reading the following article: Koessler, John. "Prophet, Priest, or Stand-up Comedian: The Priestly Role of the Sermon." Preaching, July 2013.)
In this particular article, Koessler makes several interesting points about a preacher and the culture within his church. He asks the question about the identity of the pastor. Who is he exactly, a prophet, a priest, or just an entertainer? (stand-up comedian).
The process of adapting the liturgy, language, rituals, and symbols of the church to the cultural norms of the local people is called inculturation. Through inculturation, the church tries to reformulate Christian doctrine and practice so that they reflect established cultural patterns and do not offend local sensibilities.
Every religious conversion is a change in worldview. Historically, immigrants who come to America and become American citizens set aside their former cultural worldview to embrace American culture and language. Indeed, it is postmodern thinking—the separatist attitude of preserving one’s cultural traditions in spite of their relevance—that encourages minorities and immigrants to adhere to their cultural roots at the expense of assimilating themselves into American culture.
In the rapid spread of the gospel, the early missionaries encountered new ideas, foreign gods, and cultural patterns far different from Judaism. The cultural differences followed national and ethnic lines encountering local gods and sub-Christian practices. The cultures of the first century were quite diverse and much of the NT addresses these issues.
The cultural gap must be bridged, because cultures can be very different. If we don’t understand the culture of the time in which the Bible was written, we’ll never understand its meaning. For example: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). What does that mean? Why didn’t he say, “In the beginning was Jesus”? Well, he used “the Word” because that was the vernacular at that time. To the Greeks the term Word was used to refer to a floating kind of cause, a kind of ethereal, spatial kind of energy that was floating around. John said to the Greeks that that floating cause, that thing which caused everything, that spatial energy, that cosmic power, is none other than that Word which became flesh (1:14).
Paul certainly had to identify church culture with his ministry at Corinth. Corinth was also a major cultural center of the Greco-Roman world because it hosted the bi-annual Isthmian Games which began in 581 b.c. (at the Temple of Poseidon). Only the Olympic Games in Athens, every four years, rivaled them in size and importance (Thucydides, Hist. 1.13.5). There were factions in the church that each had their own view on the church. This is still seen today. Unfortunately, few churches create their culture on purpose. Instead, they drift into a culture.
1 Corinthians 3:3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human? 
It is not difficult to determine a believer’s spiritual maturity, or immaturity, if you discover what kind of “diet” he enjoys. The immature believer knows little about the present ministry of Christ in heaven. He knows the facts about our Lord’s life and ministry on earth, but not the truths about His present ministry in heaven. He lives on “Bible stories” and not Bible doctrines. The Corinthians had focused on men when in fact God alone was the source of blessing (3:5-9) and ministers were only servants accountable to Him (3:10-17). Since that was so, a minister needed to beware of cultivating the praise of men—as certain leaders in the Corinthian church apparently were doing (3:18-23), and needed instead to seek by faithful service to gain the praise of God (4:1-5). Each church should be about the business of making disciples that make disciples. Every program should have this as a projected end. The key question to ask for each program is whether it is a context for making disciple-making disciples.
A true pastor (leader) must be a servant. He must have a servant’s mind (Philippians 2) and be willing to put Christ first, others second, and self last. The foundation of the church was not the church leaders but Jesus Christ. Each person builds on this foundation. What is built may be something valuable or something worthless. Final evaluation of the value of one’s work will be revealed at the Day of Judgment. Paul explained the condition for rewards with appropriate warnings for leaders and followers. Paul’s warnings do not mean human leaders are unimportant. People are saved only by Christ, and there is no other basis for salvation. Church leaders build on the foundation. From this thought Paul appealed to the Corinthians to act on what he had written. The apostle emphasized both the responsibility of leaders and the importance of their example. They were “entrusted with the secret things of God.” These secret things granted to these leaders are things that human wisdom cannot discover but can only be revealed by God to His people.
When thinking about culture, a pastor (preacher) must be aware of not only what he is communicating, but how he is communicating. The delivery is important, just like the content. What the audience hears comes about not just from what is said, but from how it is presented. One of the key presuppositions of postmodernism is that truth is tightly bound to language. Because language varies from culture to culture, so does truth. Let me explain.
Postmodernists point out that people communicate and think through language. Different cultures have words with entirely different meanings. Some culture have specific words with specific meanings that are completely absent in other cultures. For example, Eskimos may have a dozen words for ice, each with a different meaning depending on conditions. This is a result of cultural needs—living with ice and communicating icy conditions is essential for Eskimo survival.
A good example of this is the well-known (but misunderstood) concept of politically correct speech. Contrary to what many people think, the goal of politically correct speech is not to teach sensitivity to people’s feelings. Rather, its purpose is to change society. “The Political-correctness movement isn’t just an attempt to keep from hurting people’s feelings, but an attempt to create different kinds of people by changing the cultural environment.”
According to postmodernists, since people communicate ideas through language, if you want to change society you change the way people talk. This in turn will change the way they think and behave: “Language is not neutral but a tool by which those in power or in control of the media can manipulate and construct reality.” To put it another way, words don’t allow us to apprehend truth—they change truth. Changing languages actually creates new reality: “In the end, language cannot authoritatively communicate reality ‘as it is’; rather, it fabricates what ‘really is.’ ”
The culture of a people includes its language, customs, laws, mores, traditions, music and art, symbols, artifacts—everything that points toward the best of a group of people and those things which the group desires to pass on to future generations. The Bible may very well be considered the handbook for Judeo-Christian culture since it clearly defines the essence of what it means to be “God’s people.”
The Bible clearly states that the culture of God’s people is to have these hallmarks:
· To live in obedience to the Law by faith. To follow God’s commands is to be in a position to receive God’s blessings; to disobey God’s laws is to experience God’s wrath (Ex. 15:26; Deut. 28:1–14).
· To have a heart for the one true and living God plus a heart for your neighbor. The Law’s purpose is to reveal a heart for God and for others (Matt. 22:37–40).
· To maintain family alliances. God’s people dwell in a community that has a family orientation. Inheritances are to be kept within a tribe (Deut. 32:6–9).
Scripture teaches that humanity’s attachment to culture derives from two sources. First is the image of God. Humans aren’t like beasts; we’ve been created in the image and likeness of God (Gn 1:26–28). We have a spiritual essence, being made for conscious communion with our Creator. God Himself is a being of culture. He communes within Himself in His triune being (Gn 1:26; Jn 17:5); He fashioned a universe of great wonder and diversity (Gn 1:1; Jn 1:1–3); and He continues to sustain that universe in exhaustive detail (Col 1:17; Heb 1:3). It shouldn’t surprise us that a creature made in the likeness of such a God would be drawn toward cultural activities as well.
Second, humans have a mandate for culture, which, along with other works of God’s law, is written on every human heart (Rm 2:14–15). God has created people to exercise dominion over other creatures (Gn 1:26–30)—the “cultural mandate.” Rather than giving a license to tyranny and plunder, God intends that humans exercise the kind of responsible stewardship that allows for creatures to realize full potential and for God’s goodness, beauty, and truth to flourish. In the process of carrying out this mandate, people create culture—language for communication; families for love and nurture; agriculture for sustenance; resource development for tools and pleasures; governments for social order; procedures, protocols, and practices; things useful and things beautiful—all part of our in-built, God-given drive to order our world and develop the beauty and potential of our environment.
 George Thomas Kurian, Nelson’s New Christian Dictionary: The Authoritative Resource on the Christian World (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2001).
 Dan Story, Christianity on the Offense: Responding to the Beliefs and Assumptions of Spiritual Seekers (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1998), 166.
 Rick Melick, "Why There Are Four Gospels" In , in Holman Christian Standard Bible: Harmony of the Gospels (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007), 10.
 John MacArthur, Jr., How to Study the Bible, John MacArthur's Bible Studies (Chicago: Moody Press, 1985).
 Robert James Utley, vol. Volume 6, Paul’s Letters to a Troubled Church: I and II Corinthians, Study Guide Commentary Series (Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International, 2002), x-1.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (1 Co 3:3–4). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
 Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (1 Co 3:1). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
 Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1985). The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (1 Co 3:1–4). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
 Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (425). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
 Dockery, D. S. (1998). The Pauline Letters. In D. S. Dockery (Ed.), Holman concise Bible commentary (D. S. Dockery, Ed.) (554). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
 Dan Story, Christianity on the Offense: Responding to the Beliefs and Assumptions of Spiritual Seekers (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1998), 161.
 Inc Thomas Nelson, The Woman’s Study Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995).
 Charles Colson, "How Should a Christian Relate to Culture?" In , in The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith, ed. Ted Cabal, Chad Owen Brand, E. Ray Clendenen et al. (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007), 1719.
Billy Crow, Christ follower, husband of Meggin, daddy of Hannah and Eli. Blessed beyond measure in every way.