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12 May 2009

Out of Context

For much of my life I have viewed the phrase "out of context" as a negative thing. I mean only bad can come from taking something out of context right?

Here are a few examples: A preacher takes a verse of the Bible out of context and builds an entire religion based on it - ignoring numerous other verses that say the opposite thing. Or an image is taken out of context and great harm is done to a person when it's spread over the Internet.

But this morning I came to the conclusion that some things taken out of context are not only positive, but can change people's lives for the better.

It's been right under my nose the entire time I've attended Granger Community Church but I never looked at it this way.

At Granger, pop culture is used to illustrate themes and concepts for people that might be attending church for the first time. And it occurred to me today that every time we do this we pull the element out of context. A secular song is played outside of its pop radio station context. A movie clip is outside the overall context of the movie etc.

But it is NOT a bad thing!

In essence, it is the very act of taking it out of context that allows it to impact people the way it does.


Because you have people's undivided attention and the ability to do the following:

  1. Set it up: You can explain a concept and then use the song, drama or clip to illustrate.
  2. Explain it out: You can use the song, drama or clip and then explain the significance after the fact.
Either way, the element tends to have a greater impact that it may have had in it's original context.

The next time you hear someone say, "That was taken out of context." Don't assume it's a bad thing...