Paul Ray, PhD, and Sherry Ruth Anderson, PhD have coined the term “Cultural Creative” which has now been accepted as a proper sociological term. All the information in the first section in this article comes from the first chapter in their book, “The Cultural Creatives”.
Though many of us have heard this phrase and can kinda sorta guess at the meaning, these PhD’s found that in America, there are over 50 million Cultural Creatives who are driving social innovation. With a group this big and making such an impact, it would be a tragedy to ignore these people.
I want to start by attempting to define the sociological term, and then explore why it matters to the church.
Per the reports of Drs. Ray and Anderson, the characteristics of this people group are extremely diverse. They can be rich, poor, black, white, blue-collar, white-collar, male, female, or any sort of given demographic, but are generally well-educated. Through the diversity, there seems to be some commonality in values:
Altruism, Self-Actualization, and Spirituality
Cultural Creatives want to do good, despite personal costs. They value Kurt Goldstein’s term, Self-Actualization, which centers on achieving one’s potential. This is either through a pursuit of knowledge, spiritual enlightening, or making changes in society, in their lifework or even within themselves. Religious beliefs vary, but generally tend to find influences from different Eastern mystic religions. However, the degree of devotion to spirituality can vary from person to person.
Globalism and Ecology
If it’s green, it’s good. With every purchase they make, and every action they take is filtered through an attempt to conserve the environment. Nature is a big deal to them. Their political activism in this realm speaks for itself.
Engaged Action and Whole Process Learning
Rather than giving money to an organization to do a good work, Cultural Creatives would prefer, if given the opportunity, to be as involved as possible and see every step of the process, beginning to end. They use these kinds of experiences to learn something at each phase, and compile it into a holistic personal lesson.
Cultural Creatives value actions which are consist with beliefs. They see right through marketing which is obviously self-contradictory, such as an oil company that uses a negligible amount of its funds to run a charitable wildlife sanctuary while at the same time poisoning the oceans. They see through churches that say they love people, but are in reality judgmental and uncompassionate.
Idealism and Activism
The Importance of Women
Feminism came from Cultural Creative thinkers who were before their time. This social group varies in its aggressiveness on the topic, but generally believe that there is no place for shackles on women in the workplace or the home.
Arts and Culture
Individualism reigns supreme in the Cultural Creative mindset, and it is often expressed through different arts, such as poetry, music, theatre, architecture, interior design, or even through business. While they are very individualistic, they lead the charge in macro-culture when it comes to outside-the-box thinking and expressions.
Why Does It Matter to the Church?
Whether you agree with every point on the list or not, these people exist in every social structure – including our churches.
With their great influence on American culture, it would be foolish not to engage them with the gospel. They are the ones moving relief and development in the cities. The murals they paint brighten up old and worn out city blocks. Homeless outreach is seeing fresh methods. Buildings are being designed for a new aesthetic mode. And their businesses are moving back into the larger metropolitan areas, renewing economies through innovation.
No, they are self-admittedly not perfect – especially when you dig into the Eastern mysticism thing – but the church must look at the people for who they are, and let the power of the Gospel be for them what it is for all of us: new life. We must raise them up through leadership development and establishment in the truth. Let the Bible guide their passions as they influence society in amazing ways.
They already have the framework to be a committed member of a society. Let the church show love to Cultural Creatives. The world will benefit.