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Christian Union
Christian Union: The Magazine
September 15, 2012

Training Christian Leaders to Engage Culture

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We need Christians to assume positions of leadership across many vocations and to take the part of (and continue to take up) issues of justice. Christians who are isolated in a "holy huddle" either socially or intellectually will not change culture.

"What we want is not more little books about Christianity, but more little books by Christians on other subjects—with their Christianity latent...It is not the books written in direct defense of Materialism that make the modern man a materialist; it is the materialistic assumptions...he would be troubled if, whenever he wanted a cheap popular introduction to some science, the best work on the market was always by a Christian." —C.S. Lewis, "Christian Apologetics," God in the Dock


There are numerous examples of Christian leaders whose lives inspire Christian Union to develop new generations of Christian leaders. C.S. Lewis himself is one of them.

The following five examples illustrate the range of social and cultural impact that Christians have when they submit their influence to God-honoring ends:

Five Examples of Inspiring Christian Leaders

C.S. Lewis (1898 – 1963)
The Oxford Scholar, novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, and Christian apologist wrote such classics as the Narnia Chronicles (The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe etc.), Mere Christianity, The Great Divorce, Surprised by Joy, and of course many other titles. He bridged academia and mass culture with popular works of fiction and non fiction, and compelling presentations of Christian worldview. We need many Christian to take the lead in academia, journalism, as essayists, cultural commentators, story tellers, filmmakers, and in many other fields, to impact our culture.

Dr. Ida Scudder (1870 –1960)
A third-generation American medical missionary in India, she was a graduate of Cornell Medical College, New York City, 1899; the first class at that school to accept women medical students. Ida had resolved not to become a medical missionary, but seeing women die in childbirth needlessly convinced her God wanted her to help as a physician. In 1918, she started one of Asia's foremost teaching hospitals, the Christian Medical College & Hospital, Vellore, India. She dedicated her skills to God. We need Christians in the medical fields, sciences, economy, and more, to do likewise.

George Gallup Jr. (1930 – 2011)
An American, George Gallup Jr. graduated with a degree in religion from Princeton, then worked at a ministry on Galveston Island in Texas. He considered becoming an Episcopal priest until he was drawn into work for his father's polling firm, where he worked from mid 1950s until 2004. He expanded the firm's surveys into religion, becoming one of the first pollsters to ask questions about organized religion and religious teachings and practice. Under Gallup Jr. the polling firm became a barometer of Americans' views on religion and politics. Late in life, he lamented that politicians had come to follow polls so closely; still he felt polling to be good for democracy. "It's removed power out of the hands of special interest groups...It's given people who wouldn't normally have a voice a voice."  We need Christians to lead in the social sciences, media, and more, to bring Christian values and perspective to bear on the pressing issues of our time.

Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 – 1968)
A Baptist minister, King is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience. He led the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. His efforts led to the 1963 March on Washington, where King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. Remarkably, King balanced the tension between confrontation and nonviolence, and in 1964 he received the Nobel Peace Prize. Leading up to his death, he expanded his focus to include poverty and the Vietnam War. Just days after his assassination, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1968. We need Christians to lead on behalf of the oppressed, whether that means working to pass just laws, living and serving among those who suffer, or advocating for "the least of these."

Sandy McDonnell (1922 – 2012)
This engineer, businessman and philanthropist was the former chairman and chief executive officer of McDonnell Douglas Corporation, he also served as national president of the Boy Scouts of America and as chairman of Character Education Partnership. He became a Christian later in life and used his influence to institute a code of business ethics, one of the first of its kind. Following his retirement, he worked energetically to advance character training in public schools. We need many business leaders to implement Christian values in the marketplace and society.

Men and women poised to lead in their fields must be reached with the Gospel and equipped to serve effectively for God-honoring ends.

Networked Christian Leaders

Movements may be known by one leader, but it takes a network of high-level influencers to shift culture. 

One of the most successful examples of a modern network of Christians is the extraodinary group of believers who pooled their collective influence, resources, physical and spiritual energies together to form a group dubbed the Clapham Circle. In the 19th century, when a member of the British parliament, William Wilberforce, came to faith and dedicated his influence to abolishing slavery, these peers became a network - in fact, a community - of spiritual and practical encouragement. They leveraged their influence for God.

Movements may be known by one leader, but it takes a network of high-level influencers to shift culture.

After decades of toil, God used Wilberforce and this influential network of Christian believers working with him, to not only end slavery in the British empire, but also to usher in an era that honored virtue in a society that had fallen into deep darkness.

Together, the Clapham Circle—a small group that included writers, philanthropists, scholars, politicians, clergy and businessmen who were driven by their faith—literally changed the world. Their far-reaching impact included dramatic success in prison reform, education, integrity in politics, mission, medicine and cultural change.

Christian Union works to network together leaders of wholehearted devotion, who will have a greater impact together than they could ever have leading alone.

Please prayerfully consider how you can help.