People are hungry for content and take it in at an unprecedented clip. In the second quarter of 2017, Netflix surpassed 100 million subscribers. Netflix members stream over 42 billion hours worth of programming each year. Recent studies suggest that the average person spends up to 5 hours a day looking at a smart phone and receives as many as 10,000 brand messages a day. We are a people who are deeply connected to and influenced by the content we absorb.
Most people are aware of the amount of time we spend in our church absorbing content. What we think about far less often is that nothing we watch on our TVs or read on our phones comes with a neutral perspective. Embedded in all the content we consume is a vision of how the world works. The creators of this content have ideas about what is true and what is ultimate, and it naturally shows up in the content they created. Their ideas may or may not square with the ultimate truth available to us in Jesus.
As our culture becomes more relativistic, pluralistic, and me-centered, these types of secular worldviews shape the messages we see and the content overall. Leaders in the church need to become wise observers of our culture so that we can learn to identify the worldview of the content we take in so that we can point ourselves, the people we lead, and the people we serve back to Jesus, who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). In light of that, here are three reasons church leaders need to understand how secular worldviews have influenced our culture.
Secular worldviews influence the way you view the world.
As a leader in the church, you are not exempt from outside influence. Like the psalmist, we need God to search us and know our hearts. We need God to show us the unbelieving ways in our own lives before we can properly lead others (Psalm 139:23-24). We cannot lead others if we are not leading ourselves.
Secular worldviews influence the people you lead.
Peter called church leaders to shepherd the flock of God (1 Peter 5:2). Sheep need shepherding because they cannot distinguish the way on their own. They need the shepherd to protect them and lead them to better pastures. A well-written article or an emotional news story may pull at our hearts in such a way that we never stop to ask, “Is this true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable?” (Phil. 4:8). We need to be able to recognize worldviews so that we can help the people we lead recognize them as well.
Secular worldviews influence the people you are seeking to reach.
The call of the Christian is the call to make disciples. In order to engage people in our communities, we need to be aware of the way they see the world. We need to be able to discern what they think is true and ultimate because this is how we enter into gospel conversations. The ultimate goal of learning to recognize secular worldviews is not to be able to best someone and prove them wrong but to lead them to the place where they see Jesus for who He really is.
The world is full of messages that promise to bring life but only leave us empty. As leaders in the church, we have found the path of life and the abundance of joy (Psalm 16:11). We need to learn how others see the world in order to help them see that the gospel is the most holistic and complete way to view the world.
A version of this article appeared on EricGeiger.com and is used with permission.