We’ve been talking about shaping culture – but there is one question we haven’t explored: is cultural change even possible?
It is thought that cultures are profoundly resistant to intentional change. Major shifts in culture take place only over very long periods of time. Yet during the Protestant Reformation a fairly small group of people brought about radical cultural change within a single generation.
More recently, we have seen another example of major culture transition in the U.S. that took place within a fairly short period of time. In the late 1980s a group of about 175 leaders meet in Warrington, Virginia. They sought to strategically launch several initiatives through various channels of cultural influence that they hoped would bring about substantial cultural change.
Gabe Lyons describes what happened next:
These friends formed the beginnings of the homosexual movement and were responsible for helping it find its stride in the mid-nineties as every channel of culture was systematically inundated with the message of equal rights, tolerance and civility for homosexuals. . . their strategy was employed in five important markets of social influence . . . which touch every citizen in America; government, education, organized religion, the media, and the workplace. In thirty years, the idea of being gay had moved from being commonly viewed as abnormal and abhorrent in society, to being an acceptable and normal alternative life-style. This illustrates perfectly the potential for cultural influence to happen when leaders throughout the seven channels of culture work together towards a common goal.
This group brought about significant cultural change in less than thirty years. They were successful because they persuaded decision makers from the most influential areas of culture. These areas are the so-called seven channels of cultural influence:
- Arts & Entertainment
Many Christians are already positioned as leaders and decision makers within these institutional channels. They already have authority in these influential areas.
Yet they are ineffective because they see no connection between what they do on Sunday and what they do on Monday. They are physically but not spiritually present. They do not understand that the most powerful tool God has given them to impact the world around them is their vocational work.
As we see in the example above, profound change is very possible in our present culture. Until Christians embrace the Biblical doctrine of work, they will remain ineffective. They will continue practicing a separation of faith and work, leaving them helpless to impact the culture around them for the glory of God and the furtherance of His Kingdom.
What do you think? Can Christians bring about cultural change in today’s day and age? Leave your comments here.