I thought this blog post on The Limitations of Contextualization by Tim Chester is well worth spending some time reading. Given all the cultural studies, demographic research, etc. that has been very popular recently for church leaders and church planters this is key:
Identifying the culture of any group and contextualizing to that culture is a helpful process as long as two important truths are born in mind.
First, every culture is part of a common humanity. Whatever the distinguishing characteristics of particular culture, people within that culture have characteristics that are true of everyone. They are made in God’s image, an image they still reflect to some degree by God’s common grace even though that image is now marred by sin. They enjoy the goodness of God’s world and long for the relationships for which they were made. They are all broken people. They are sinners who face the judgment of God. And they are the victims of the sins of others.
Second, every person is a unique individual. Whatever the distinguishing characteristics of particular culture, people within that culture have aspects of their personality and interests that are unique to them. They may be a truck driver who likes opera. They may be an unemployed teenager who loves reading. Each person is different. Each person is part of a matrix of relationships that is unique to them. So, while cultural descriptions may be commonly true, we cannot assume they are true of the person in front of us. We need to contextualize on a person by person basis.