A Perfect (Cultural) Storm: How the Church Should Respond

Chuck Colson | BreakPoint | Monday, May 11, 2009

A Perfect (Cultural) Storm: How the Church Should Respond

May 11, 2009

Today Americans find themselves swept up in the perfect cultural storm. We have a financial meltdown caused largely by moral failures in government, Wall Street, and the public. We’re paying the bill for decades of self-indulgence, fueled by rampant relativism, rejection of the Christian work ethic, and materialism. And we have an army of Islamic jihadists who hope to destroy Israel and the Western world.

In the midst of this storm, many of our neighbors are in despair. But Christians ought not to despair; we should redouble our efforts to winsomely engage this culture. Remember, culture is just religion incarnate, and politics is only an expression of culture. So to fix a broken culture, you reinvigorate the Church—offering deeper discipleship and worldview teaching.

And this is why Christians must learn to band together, making the best use of our resources. Now, this is a novel idea for some of us. The great strength of evangelicalism is its entrepreneurialism, but it’s also our weakness. Church planters and para-church ministries often compete with one another, needlessly duplicating efforts.

To deal with this problem, leaders from 100 ministries gathered recently in Washington to discuss strategic alliances. I was overwhelmed by the response. Out of this meeting has come an agreement, for example, for us to train Centurions and equip them to use the Focus on the Family Truth Project in churches. We’re also seriously exploring using our Wide Angle worldview teaching as an advanced Alpha movement course

Prison Fellowship has been a leader in such collaborations. We started with Operation Starting Line, an affiliation of 37 ministries, to cooperate in prison evangelism. Most of our follow-up correspondence Bible studies are done by Crossroad Bible Institute of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

And now we’re engaging in more innovative efforts. Mark Earley recently reached an agreement with the Progressive National Baptist Convention leadership. At their expense, Prison Fellowship is putting on training conferences at their pastors’ gatherings. They, in turn, receive from us free of charge all the prison ministry teaching resources they need.

Another example: The volunteer chaplain at the Allegheny County jail in Pennsylvania reported that our people had helped him set up a volunteer-led, faith-based program using our teaching materials—and in the process has cut recidivism dramatically. This is the kind of impact we can have if we decide as a movement to put the interests of God’s Kingdom ahead of our narrow organizational interests.

And it’s crucial. The first law of military engagement is to mass your forces. The award-winning author David Halberstam, in his great book The Coldest Winter, describes how several army divisions in the Korean War were decimated because they didn’t join their lines together. The Chinese exploited these gaps between units. This mustn’t happen to the Church in this crisis.

Instead, we’ve got to learn how to help one another navigate through the perfect storm. When we do, we are also pleasing the One who prayed, “Father, may they be one with one another.”

Chuck Colson’s daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.