As a long-time Christ follower, business professional, and perceptive observer of American culture, I have watched our culture drastically change in the past ten years.  I think many of us are not sure how to respond. How do we navigate this new culture that most of us could not have imagined in 2008?  How can we promote a godly lifestyle in a culture that spins the truth found in the Bible?  Could our approach be better?  How we respond to these questions is crucial, and the key to responding is to understand what is happening within the culture.


During recent years in America, a growing number of people have allowed schools and news feeds to define their principles, beliefs, values, and morals. Let’s face it, many of these values are not affirmed in Scripture.  Most people likely do not even realize how these sources of information guide their values.  When we hear church leaders repeating the same messaging as popular culture, we feel like we cannot depend on the church for guidance on how to stand up against this culture.


If our mission is to grow God's kingdom everywhere, we have to ask ourselves, is the approach used by most Christian leaders really working? Are we gaining or losing disciples as a result of these leaders bending toward current cultural norms? Are we actually missing an opportunity to offer a godly witness by being so culturally sensitive? Our desire is to have an attitude of acceptance for all people.  At the same time, we are instructed to share the truth on topics related to sin, repentance, heaven, and hell. Is there an approach that accomplishes these things? My conclusion is a resounding, ‘yes!’


I see that the trend for many church leaders increasingly resembles the 'big net' or 'wide net' philosophy. This approach tries to appeal to people by focusing attention on race, gender, sexual preference, and political correctness while avoiding the possibility of offending anyone. The problem with this approach is it really only emphasizes one part of the truth of God's word. While it sounds more kind to not offend, it is actually more loving to risk offending a person by speaking the truth in love.


This should be common sense to all of us as we consider an example. Imagine someone struggling with an addiction. How do you demonstrate love without offending?  Obviously you should not tell the person that the addiction is okay. It is better to point out the addiction, in all its ugliness, and envelop this conversation with the biblical truth that God loves him or her in spite of the addiction. While this conversation might be received as offensive, it is far more loving to risk offense in an effort to help that person recover from the addiction and move toward a better life. In spite of this common sense, I continue to see and hear an increasing number of church leaders embracing the cultural mantra of avoiding offense at all costs. As a result, people don’t see that the church is even different from popular culture.  They lose hope that things will get better and feel uninspired to stand up against the cultural decline.


So how can we reverse the cultural decline that seems to be gaining momentum? There are many ways, but they involve going beyond the typical weekly church routine. Simply attending a weekly church service doesn't change the direction of culture. Instead, be part of a movement that competes with the current culture. Ratio Christi is a great example of this. The Ratio Christi movement champions a Christian worldview that competes with the secular worldview within a particular setting: our college campuses.  It is critical that this movement continues to flourish because students at the university level are of the age group that is the most receptive to competing points of view.


For example, students at many of our public universities will easily find groups promoting a lifestyle that opposes biblical truth.  A Ratio Christi campus group competes with all of these groups by educating and promoting a lifestyle that agrees with Scripture.  Serving and supporting this type of movement is a great way to help grow God's kingdom and change the culture.


Another way to influence culture is to start thinking critically about all the messages you consume both inside and outside of a church building.  Are you only getting pep talks?  What kind of content are you choosing?  If you are continually listening to 'church 101' messages that do not educate, convict, or expand your perspective, stop listening and find better leaders who challenge your thinking.  In other words, if we want to truly see God change us, we need the fuller and deeper truth of the Bible.  If you hear Christian messaging that spins or hides sound biblical teaching in an effort to appeal to the masses, find better messaging!  Try content outside of the mainstream 'Church 101' box.  There are good leaders out there that take it to the next level.  These recommendations will get you started in a solid foundation of study:

Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology: www.christianessentialssbc.com/messages
James MacDonald's podcasts: www.jamesmacdonald.com/podcast 
The Colson Center's BreakPoint podcast: www.breakpoint.org/category/podcast


In addition to just thinking critically about Christian messaging, we should continually ask ourselves, Why do we allow popular culture to influence us at all?  Even the most popular group-think opinion doesn't change what is true or false, right or wrong.  Romans 12:2 says: "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."  So renew your mind by studying the Bible, engaging the culture, and praying for wisdom.  Studying, engaging and praying are crucial in order to identify biblical truth within the multitude of messages of our present day.  Ask God to help you separate worldly messaging from truth and stand firm in the truth regardless of what direction the culture is going.

 

Charlie Twietmeyer is a Wireless Engineer in the field of Information Technology.  His involvement with Ratio Christi includes volunteering in the Media Outreach team. Charlie’s interests include Christian discipleship, serving, volunteering and influencing culture.  Charlie also is passionate about technology, sports and good conversations. Charlie can be reached at charlie_tweet@protonmail.com.