The Aesthetic Elevator discusses the problem of a ghetto-ized Christianity that cloaks its message in jargon and nomenclature, and inspires some thoughts.
The job of the Christian in most cases, it seems to me, is to live a counter-cultural life in the midst of the prevailing culture. That's what "counter-cultural" means. If we live off to ourselves in some forgotten corner of the world, we may live any way we like, but we can't really live counter-culturally without some culture around us to be counter to.
One can't "swim against the current" in a stock pond.
Some - a few - are called to withdraw somewhat from the surrounding culture, the better to cultivate holiness, contemplative prayer and study, but most of us are not. We are called to live a Christian life (which will always be counter-cultural, if we're doing it right) as a sign and a light to those who know us. The problem is, like so many missionaries of times past, the Church in America has long ago "gone native". We are influenced by the modern materialist, consumer culture far more than we influence it.
We need to admit that.
The solution isn't as simple as living like a monk among more jaded and cosmopolitan peers (though one could do worse, for a start). If we are to communicate with the culture, we do need to understand the culture and speak the language, to some extent. I think the Protestant evangelical churches in America got into in deep trouble when they failed for a long time to notice that they were trying to express Norman Rockwell sentiment in King James English to a jaded, post-modern world that wasn't listening.
One thing I learned from all the time I spent in school is that a great instructor is one who understands his subject so thoroughly that he can explain it to almost anyone, using language that they can understand. Those with a shallower knowledge of their field, or who just don't care enough to meet people where they are (by re-casting the fundamentals in common language) may be competent enough to get by, but they will never be great teachers.
Of course, sometimes, the cure is worse than the disease. When the Catholic Church tried to make some adjustments to contemporary Western culture by making Latin optional and opening up the liturgy a bit, all post-modern hell broke loose. As a result, the liturgy in many instances wasn't reformed, but deformed and made alternately insipid, silly or shocking (or shockingly silly, etc...). Many Catholic priests, religious, musicians, lay teachers and others fell all over themselves trying to demonstrate how hip and current they were, which ironically had the effect of making them appear desperate and pathetically out of touch, like a middle-aged chaperon trying to crunk with the kids at the prom.
They might have done well to remember (if based only on their own experience of life) that one of the Cardinal Sins of human relationships (whether wooing a lover or easing into a friendship) is trying too hard.
So there is a fine line we have to walk. Speaking as an artist who has (formerly) designed my share of consumer junk for the "Christian Market", doing the same things the world does and sticking a Bible verse at the bottom isn't going to cut it. Christian music that is indistinguishable from pop music (only not quite as interesting and with tweaked lyrics) isn't the answer.
We need to speak to the culture in precisely the places where the culture fails (which entails not just knowledge of the culture, but understanding of the culture... seeing its strengths and weaknesses). A dull culture needs the bracing blast of real beauty (like the spray of an ocean wave), not more dullness with an ICTHUS stamped on it. God forgive his people for peddling such rot in the name of His Son.
A shallow culture longs for depth. In a consumer culture, people need us to demonstrate the beauty of living simply. In a frantic and media distracted culture, the world needs us to model the peace of Christ. An ambitious culture needs to see us live in joyful humility. A world of weakened, shallow and broken relationships needs us to be walking examples of love and concern for everyone we meet.
All this means making ourselves vulnerable, and allowing ourselves - setting ourselves up - to be inconvenienced. It also means not being afraid to be thought a little... odd (call it eccentric if it makes you feel better). There is in this kind of life no guarantee of success in an earthly sense. Don't hold your breath waiting for respect and approval from the broader culture. As our Lord made clear to those first disciples whom he called away from their nets, He has bigger fish for us to fry.