culture

Relentless Faith in a Complex Culture: 4 Key Takeaways from the 2017 ERLC / TGC Pre-Conference

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Parenting, sexual confusion, race, apologetics. These were just a few of the topics speakers addressed at Relentless, the 2017 ERLC / TGC Pre-Conference.

Here are four lessons I walked away with.

1. Christ-centered parenting takes wisdom in a complex world.

In one of the panel discussions, Danny Akin, Jen Wilkin, Crawford Loritts and Nancy Guthrie addressed how parents can navigate an increasingly complex, confused culture.

Wilkin admitted that scripture doesn’t talk much about parenting, per se, but it does talk often about loving your neighbors — and children are our neighbors. “We almost treat children like half-people,” she said. “They aren’t becoming fully human, they are fully human now.” This realization can change parents’ postures towards their children and how they speak to them.

Later, the panelists talked about how and when to address difficult topics with children. Akin encouraged parents to “look for teachable moments with your children.” In addition, he explained how he was involved in his children’s lives — going to t-ball games, having fun with them — even if it meant he missed meetings or other functions.

Most importantly, the panelists urged Christians to integrate the gospel into their daily lives. Akin explained that his family always treated Jesus as an additional member of the family. “As a family, loving Jesus is what we do naturally,” he said. “Any theology that keeps you from daily presenting the gospel to your children is a bad theology.”

2. Christians need more cowbell.

If Christians want to live according to the Bible’s teachings, they will look strange to the rest of the world — and they need not be ashamed of it. Russell Moore referenced a popular Saturday Night Live skit to emphasize this point. “If you’re going to play the cowbell, play the cowbell,” Moore said.

Christians may have fears about embracing the gospel and Christian teaching in a culture that opposes it. Doing so may require courage. “Courage is not fearlessness,” Moore said. “Courage is crucified fearfulness.”

Kevin DeYoung also addressed how Christian seems increasingly strange to our neighbors. Instead of losing heart, he urged them to leverage the strangeness to share the gospel. “What if encroaching cultural hostility toward Christianity is a providential opportunity for us to talk about Jesus?” he asked.

Christians don’t need to be like everyone else. Christians need more cowbell — and to point others to Christ.

3. Pursue Christ-honoring multi-ethnic ministry.

There are many ways to do multi-ethnic ministry wrong, Jason Cook explained. But Christians should pursue multi-ethnic ministry in the right way for the right reasons. “Multi-ethnic ministry is only the first earthly step towards a heavenly reality of cross-culturalism,” he said.

Why is multi-ethnic ministry so important for the church? “Jesus is not coming back for a harem, but a bride.”

4. Love people who are sexually confused.

In a panel discussion on same-sex attraction and gender identity, Russell Moore, Kevin DeYoung, Sam Allberry and Jackie Hill Perry encouraged attendees to love people who are sexually confused.

Christians shouldn’t treat people as less than human or a problem to be fixed, urged Jackie Hill Perry. Instead they should view them as people to be loved.

Kevin DeYoung agreed. He urged attendees not to treat people who struggle with unique forms of sexual sin as different kinds of people. “You are more alike than you are different,” he said.

Many people view issues of sexuality solely through the perspective of the culture wars. But Sam Allberry pointed attendees to Christians’ ultimate mission. “Our mandate is not to hold the line,” he said. “Our mandate is to win people.”


The conference was brief, but the takeaways were many. What did you learn from the ERLC / TGC Pre-Conference? Let us know in the comments.

If you want to continue to gain tools to integrate faith and culture in your own life or ministry, we have a free resource to help. Drop your email address in the box below, and we’ll send you A Pocket Guide to Christianity and Culture, a free e-book from Bruce Ashford.

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  • culture
  • homosexuality
  • ministry
  • parenting
  • race
  • transgender
Nathaniel Williams

Editor and Content Manager for the CFC

Nathaniel Williams (M.Div, Southeastern Seminary) oversees the website, podcast and social media for the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture, and he serves as the pastor of Cedar Rock First Baptist Church. His work has appeared at Christianity Today, The Gospel Coalition, Fathom Mag, the ERLC and BRNow.org. He and his family live in rural North Carolina.

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