Ideas Alone Don’t Change the Culture


John Stonestreet

The world as we know it is made up of a lot of things, not least of which are ideas. You hear us talk about ideas all the time on BreakPoint, especially those underlying worldview ideas that have enormous cultural consequences. We believe that to understand the culture around us, Christians must understand the ideas that are at work. And we believe that without the right ideas, it will be impossible for Christians to impact the world around them.

Still, ideas alone never change culture. People, committed to ideas, are the ones who change culture. Let me repeat that: Ideas alone can’t change culture. People, committed to ideas, are the ones who change culture. Without people to embrace, articulate, repeat, apply, and embody ideas, ideas will have very little impact.

I think that’s at least partly what my friend and mentor, Dr. Bill Brown, who is now the national director of the Colson Fellows Program, means when he says: “One person committed to a cause is far more effective than a thousand who are merely interested.”

Most effective is when a group of individuals commit to embrace, articulate, repeat, and embody together certain ideas about life and the world, about what it means to be human, about what’s true and good and beautiful, about what the good life is, and about what human flourishing is all about.

Christians, of all people, are called to certain ideas about God, ourselves, life, and the world. But we’re called to more than mere assent to those ideas. We’re called to believe in what is revealed as truth to us, in the Hebrew sense of “belief,” not only to assent but to embrace – which means living it out.

That Christ-followers should live out their faith in the world was one of the ideas deeply embraced by Chuck Colson. And so, when he was challenged about his legacy, he chose to not just focus on launching organizations, writing books, or giving speeches. He believed the most important legacy he could leave would be people that he could train and mentor to engage the culture for Christ.

That vision is what led him to create what was once called the Centurions Program. Today, because it so much reflects what Chuck Colson was all about, we call it the Colson Fellows Program. Currently, over 200 individuals—men, women, young adults, retirees, business leaders, professionals, educators, artists, and more—are studying with us. They are on a deep dive into the ideas that undergird the Christian worldview and its competing worldviews. They are taking a close look at the cultural issues that matter most. And they are wrestling together in a planning process to embody those true, good, and beautiful ideas in order to join God’s restorative project in the world, which will be fully completed in Jesus Christ.

Colson Fellows follow a curriculum reading significant books on Christian worldview, learning and interacting online and in person from outstanding worldview teachers, and then meeting together at national and regional residencies. Near the end of the journey, they prepare a plan—with the help of Colson Fellows staff and other Colson Fellows—to articulate, repeat, embody, and advance Christian worldview in our culture.

Commissioned Colson Fellows have argued cases before the Supreme Court, become university presidents, and been elected to public office. Others are parenting, grandparenting, teaching, loving, caring, and living out their faith wherever God has planted them. Think of it as professional development for Christians from a Christian worldview.

If you join us this year at the Wilberforce Weekend, you’ll get to meet this amazing class of Colson Fellows and watch as they are commissioned, as well as so many alumni who join us year after year for that event. When commissioned, the Colson Fellows join an alumni network of nearly 2,000 others, and it’s growing.

Or better yet, why not consider joining the ranks yourself? Right now, we’re accepting applications for next year’s class of Colson Fellows which will begin late summer of this year. Come to to find out more information, see the curriculum, and hear from Colson Fellows themselves about what the program did for their lives. And you can sign up for a free informational webinar that will be held on Monday February 11.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing about some of the amazing work our commissioned Fellows are doing across the country. So again, come to to learn more and to apply.


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