“Keeping a Pulse on Culture”

When asked about how to keep a pulse on culture, Scott Hodge had some good insights I thought you would enjoy.

I cannot vouch for these blogs, books, or churches, and I could think of a few others to include – perhaps I will put a list together sometime soon which would include PFP 🙂 , but here is Scott’s answer:

  1. Read blogs! Subscribe to a number of blogs that seem in touch with culture (and not just ministry blogs…): Ragamuffin Soul, Eric Bryant, Ethur Blog, Joe Thorn, Steve McCoy, Arts & Letters Daily, Boing Boing, Jordon Cooper, Seth Godin, Tim Stevens, Church Marketing Sucks, Tony Morgan, Dave Ferguson, Kem Meyer, Tallskinnykiwi, Johnny Baker, Catalyst Leader Feeder. (Gosh, there are so many more….but there’s a start.)
  2. Subscribe to some magazines that are in touch with current culture. Here are a few I subscribe to: Fast Company, Wired Magazine, Relevant Magazine, Collide Magazine
  3. Subscribe to some podcasts. Here are a few of my favorites: This American Life, VH1 Best Week Ever, The Relevant Podcast, TED.
  4. Get rid of the PC and buy a Mac. 🙂 Ok, I’m sort of kidding. (keyword: sort of…)
  5. Twitter and Facebook. Everyone’s doing it and it’s a great way to keep a pulse on a lot of different cultural conversations.
  6. Read a lot of books. A few recommendations:Pop Goes The Church by Tim Stevens
    The Reason for God by Tim Keller
    Everything Must Change by Brian McLaren
    A New Kind of Christian by Brian McLaren
    Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell
    Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath
    Prophetic Untimeliness by Oz Guinness
    The Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch
    unChristian by Gabe Lyons
    They Like Jesus, But Not The Church by Dan Kimball
  7. Browse new and most popular music in iTunes. This is a great way to hear what’s happening musically in our culture. The 30-second snippets are great!
  8. Go to some conferences that will stretch and challenge you. A few recommendations:Catalyst Conference – it’s BIG, but you’ll get a good feel for what’s happening among young leaders.
    Innovate – none will be as good as last year’s (that’s when I spoke, ha, ha…), but this is a great conference put on by my friends from Granger Community Church in Granger, Indiana.
    Q – Expensive, but DEFINITELY a unique conference that asks the question, “How can the church begin INFLUENCING culture?”
  9. Visit some churches who are DOING IT. A few that I have my eye on:Imago Dei – A beautiful missional church in Portland.
    Community Christian Church – Naperville, IL (The best at reproducing I’ve ever seen)
    Granger Community Church – Granger, IN – Using pop culture to their advantage in a HUGE way.
    Mosaic – LA – Creating culture.
    NewSong Church – LA – Love the global thinking at NewSong. The more I learn about Dave Gibbons, the more I want to crawl inside his brain.Dang, there are so many… I can’t even begin to list out all the ones who are making it happen. These are just a few.
  10. Listen to teenagers. Like you mentioned, he will keep you up on what’s happening. Since teens CRANK at technology and media, they are up on what’s going on culturally better than anyone.
  11. Be yourself. No matter what, be yourself. Don’t TRY to be like anybody else. Our culture can sniff that a million miles away. Doesn’t mean there won’t be room for improvement or opportunity to have a better grasp on culture, but you will be at your best when you are being who God made you to be.

The question I’m asking right now is how do we move BEYOND imitating culture and into CREATING culture? That’s my dream. To create, impact and move culture in a way that makes our churches irreplaceable.

BUT….before we can do that, we have to make sure we are in tune with where culture is at right now. The church hasn’t always done a great job at that – proven by the fact that MOST churches are CHASING culture (because MOST are years BEHIND it.) But the church’s best days are when we are no longer chasing or imitating culture, but actually shaping it!

Showing 4 comments
  • Kim Martinez

    I think the answer to shaping culture begins in creating community. One of the main things the church has to offer culture that they really don’t have is community. (Thought behind this is that God being triune is the ultimate in community, we are just learning what it means to live and be in community.)

    As we get what it means to be in community, we then take that into culture and it becomes transformational. We do this as Christians on an individual level and on a corporate level, as a church body.

  • Kim Martinez

    For another way the church is shaping culture, see Kem Meyer’s blog:


  • Bill "Waz" Wasowicz

    I loved your blog. It was sent to me by my pastor. I especially enjoyed the part about DOING IT.

    You mentioned a few churches that are “pushing the envelope” and I think ours is one of them. Pastor Rusty’s main theme in his weekly messages is to get outside of the walls of the church. That is where true Christianity is!

    We, as a church, are only 2 1/2 years old but have already had a major impact on our community. I won’t go into great detail here but, at the 1st Annual Maricopa Awards banquet (Maricopa has only been a city for 4 years but is one of the fastest growing in the country), COH and it’s congregation garnered all four of the awards. Citizen of the Year (Pastor Rusty), Non Profit of the Year (COH), Volunteer of the Year and Business of the Year. If that is not taking the word of Jesus Christ to the masses, I don’t know what is!

    Being born and raised a Catholic, I went to church (during my schooling years) 6 days a week for 9 years. I always said that I’ve “done church enough to last me for the rest of my life”. After 30+ years of staying away, I was fortunate enough to be involved in the COH opening 2 1/2 years ago and have found true Christianity.

    Ghandi once said, ” I very much liked to be a Christian, until I met one”.

    Interpret as you wish, but it sums up my journey back to living with and through Jesus.

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