By Dave Higle
Pastors assist people to be faithful disciples of Jesus in the midst of a culture that is in need of redemption. But how can you as a pastor be best informed about the nature of that culture? What informs your answers to questions from people about how to live as faithful disciples of Jesus when they bump up against conflicting forces, values, and trends? Cultural forces are changing at an extremely rapid rate. Intellectual growth is critical to developing the knowledge base for mentoring disciples, providing spiritual counsel, relevant sermon preparation, and relating well to people who come from a variety of backgrounds. Maintaining a healthy intellectual life is important for one’s own sense of competence and confidence in ministry.
Informing Your Understanding of Culture
Here are five sources that you can use to help inform your understanding of culture. They vary in their intellectual rigor, scope, and media, but all are solid sources of information on culture.
The Colson Center for Christian Worldview: Named after Chuck Colson and continuing his work to help Christians navigate and transform culture for Christ, “The Colson Center seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending the Christian worldview.”
Mars Hill Audio Journal: (no connection to Mark Driscoll or Mars Hill Church!) – MARS HILL AUDIO “explores the various factors that have given modern Western culture its distinctive character. We also try to describe what cultural life — its practices, beliefs, and artifacts — might look like if it was the product of thoughtful Christian imaginations.” Each edition presents 10-20 minute interviews by Ken Myers with a wide range of authors, thought leaders, and scholars covering all manner of issues in society.
Books and Culture: “Books & Culture is a bimonthly review that engages the contemporary world from a Christian perspective. Every issue contains in-depth reviews of books that merit critical attention, as well as shorter notices of significant new titles.”
The Martin Institute for Christianity & Culture: “As part of the Martin Institute for Christianity and Culture, the Dallas Willard Center places an enduring emphasis on the intellectual legacy of Dallas Willard, including his focus on the possibility and path to authentic spiritual and moral transformation.”
First Things: First Things is “a journal published by the Institute on Religion and Public Life, an interreligious, nonpartisan research and educational 501(c)(3) organization. The Institute was founded in 1989 by Richard John Neuhaus and his colleagues to confront the ideology of secularism, which insists that the public square must be ‘naked,’ and that faith has no place in shaping the public conversation or in shaping public policy.”
Other recent helpful articles on Culture (with some emphasis on living in an age of anxiety):
Watson, R. (2017). “Top Trends in Society and Culture,”http://www.nowandnext.com/top-trends/society-culture/
Stetzer, E., “3 Ways Christians will Address Cultural Issues in the Coming Year,” Christianity Today, February 3, 2015 http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2015/february/3-ways-christians-will-address-cultural-issues-in-coming-ye.html
Hyun, D. “6 Questions to Cultivate Cross-Cultural Consciousness,” Lifeway Christian Resources, October 15, 1016, http://www.lifeway.com/pastors/2016/10/15/6-questions-to-cultivate-cross-cultural-consciousness/
Crouch, A. (2017). The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Winston, S., “When Anxiety is Global,” Psychology Today, January 16, 2017,
See the links at this website for dealing with anxiety due to major events: American Psychological Association http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/index.aspx
Keller, T., & and Inazu J., “How Christians Can Bear Gospel Witness in an Anxious Age,” Christianity Today, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/june-web-only/tim-keller-john-inazu-christians-gospel-witness-anxious-age.html