Christians often come up short in having a significant impact on the culture.
“People don’t listen to what you say as much as what you do, and in that category, Christians are failing miserably,” said Phil Cooke, a Christian author and filmmaker in Los Angeles. “The truth is, to change today’s culture, we don’t need more legislation, boycotts, criticism, outrage or even evangelism campaigns – we just need to change the way we live.”
Cooke recommends 10 things Christians can do to better influence the world around them in the new year.
Read the Bible. “Research from the Center for Bible Engagement reveals that engaging the Bible four or more times a week actually causes visible behavioral changes. But today, only 19 percent of churchgoing Christians read the Bible daily, and 40 percent read it once a month, rarely or never.”
Serve people. “Pastor John Piper said, `Christ will be known in the culture when we begin treating people better than they deserve.”
Be the church. “Not just showing up at church but being a vital, connected and supporting member of a local congregation. `And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near,’ Hebrews 10:25.”
Taking prayer seriously. “Today, only 63 percent of Christians say prayer is essential, which means that more than a third of Christians attending church today don’t believe it’s essential.”
Stop looking at the culture as the enemy. “Our regular denunciation, boycotts and criticism of organizations and groups we don’t like have blinded us to the compassion Jesus had, even for his harshest critics.”
Submit to other believers. “How many Christians today look for a church that meets their needs instead of finding a church where they can serve? Nothing upsets the 21st century mindset more than submission, and yet that’s exactly what Jesus has called us to do.”
Be more mindful of social media. “Today, Christians can be some of the most critical and judgmental people online. Social media is addictive, and it is incredibly simple to pass on information without checking the facts, which far too often damages other people’s character and undermines the work of the gospel. It’s time for serious believers to take social media seriously.”
Take bold chances. “It’s far too rare to hear of a standout leader in science, politics, business, entertainment, the Internet and other influential areas who is a believer. Part of the reason our influence is disappearing in the culture is because we haven’t raised up many heroes who are remarkable in those fields. What if unashamed Christians were leading major technology, entertainment, educational, business and other companies? How would their work in those fields change how Christians are perceived by the culture? What are we doing in the Christian community to find, mentor and raise up these types of leaders?”
Understand the impact of living a moral life. “For the early church, personal morality mattered. Rather than criticizing immorality in the outside culture, those leaders started inside by becoming examples themselves of what a moral life could accomplish. But in the last few years, we’ve seen a remarkable number of major pastors and Christian leaders fall from grace, and the damage that does to our witness can’t be estimated. No one is perfect, but when we as a community lose our moral authority, we’ve lost all hope of influencing culture for the better.”
Invest our lives in Jesus. “Everyone is invested in something, and I’m not talking about financial investment. I’m talking about investing in your status, your credibility and your career. For instance, if you’re a college professor, you’re invested in your standing among other professors, your academic credentials and your professional associations. In the same way, religious leaders of Jesus’ day were invested in their authority or office (See Acts 4:19). As a result, even those who believed in him pulled back, fearing the damage it might cause to their reputation, position in the community or relationship with power.”
–Dwight Widaman | MV