The Center for Faith & Culture—Olivet Nazarene University

Cultural Change

The Good Churchman

Several weeks ago I was at lunch with some colleagues who were sharing memories from their years in ministry. For those in ministry the fondest memories revolve around the people to whom they get to minister. One story was shared about a gentleman and the mere mention of his name brought a smile to everyone’s face. Though I was unfamiliar with this particular man it was clear that he had a profound impact on several at the table. One said of this man, “He was a good churchman.” Everyone nodded in agreement.

To be honest, I have only become familiar with the term “churchman” in the last few years and I have only heard it used a handful of times. I’m intrigued by it. It’s a word that carried meaning for all at the table that day and they seemed to understand all that it signified. It’s clearly a term of endearment, one that says a lot about a person. The others were a little surprised at my confession that I wasn’t sure what it meant. From my perspective, wouldn’t it be assumed that a committed Christian would also be a good churchman or churchwoman?

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Swimming Upstream


I just finished writing a book this week.  The book focuses on The Lordship of Christ and talks about ways we can really put feet to our words when we say “Jesus is Lord.”  It will be ready for sale in June 2013.  So, I have been thinking about the theme of that book in relationship to our culture.  It seems to me that our dominant culture has lost its ability to point society in the direction of God.  It has also lost its ability to define the term lordship with any real depth of spiritual meaning such as it had even a couple of hundred years ago.  Therefore, when we begin to ponder The Lordship of Christ, we will find few, if any, clues from culture for doing this.

As I said, I was pondering what has happened in culture and society when I walked into Sunday school class last Sunday.  Dr. Kent Olney, our Sunday school teacher, is in the middle of a lesson series entitled “Marriage Matters.”  By the way, I have asked him to write a couple of articles for the Faith and Culture page of Epworth Pulpit from his series.  He has agreed; you will enjoy his material.  He believes much about marriage is up for grabs in 2012.  Dr. Olney began his presentation on marriage last Sunday, and I listened intently to his subject matter.  He then put a Power Point slide on the screen which I am sure related to his presentation.  However, the second my eyes focused on it, my mind began spinning with answers to my question about culture and my book on The Lordship of Christ. 

I want to give you an outline of his slide.  I am sure as soon as you see the analysis, you will begin to see other applications for it as I did.  Dr. Olney looked back over the last 60 years in western culture and characterized each decade since World War II.  He pointed out the social or personal revolution of each decade and what our culture redefined in that time period.  With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at Dr. Olney’s slide.

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