As a Christian father with young children, I’m always looking for resources to help me prepare my little ones for a post-Christian culture. Our society is filled with unbiblical – and even anti-Christian – ideas, and the thought of raising a child in such an environment is very daunting. That’s why I am thankful for A Practical Guide to Culture by John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle. This insightful book is a must-read for parents, pastors, or anyone who desires to prepare the next generation to navigate the culture.
The book is divided into four parts: Why Culture Matters, A Read of the Culture Wars, Pounding Cultural Waves, and Christian Worldview Essentials. It would be easy to skip over parts one and two and head straight for three, as that’s where the hot cultural issues are addressed. But then you would be missing the background information to help understand culture as a whole. Because we hear and use the word culture a lot, but do we understand what it is and how it is formed?
Part one defines culture and explains why we should care about it. Here, Stonestreet and Kunkle present the purpose of the book: “not merely to talk about culture but to help the next generation live well in the culture” (27 – emphasis original). We are immersed in culture – whether we like it or even realize it – like a fish in water. Since we cannot avoid it, we must learn how to navigate it properly. But more than that, Christians must help to shape the culture, to join in the God-given task of restoring our world.
After properly defining culture and explaining our biblical relationship to it, John and Brett discuss our current culture in part two. Here they provide warnings of living in the information age (chapter 4), discuss how to live in a post-Christian culture (chapter 5), explain the ways technology can ruin our ability to relate to others (chapter 6), and show how many young people in our society simply aren’t growing up (chapter 7). But the authors are not merely complaining about our culture. As the title of the book states, this is a practical guide. They give helpful steps on handling each of the topics, such as ways to assess information according to a Christian worldview and how to avoid being consumed by technology.
Part three is where John and Brett dive into individual issues that face our culture. Some of the hot topics are obvious, such as sexual orientation and gender identity. However, I am thankful that they also address issues that are often ignored by the church, such as consumerism and entertainment. Once again, the practical nature of this book is evident as Stonestreet and Kunkle provide helpful steps to face each issue as a Christian. And as it is easy to despair amidst so many issues facing the Church, they include a section at the end of each chapter called “Hopecasting.” This is where they describe real-life situations in which hope shines through each issue.
Part four is all about forming a Christian worldview. It is sad that a chapter like How to Read the Bible (chapter 16) would need to be included. But the truth is that many self-professing Christians simply don’t know how to read their Bibles, if they even do at all. And since the Bible is our source of authority, it is also important to know why we should even trust it at all (chapter 17). Chapter 18 discusses how to navigate religious pluralism and the essential final chapter teaches how Christians can take the Gospel to the culture.
For a book that deals with such heavy topics, A Practical Guide to Culture is very readable. I would plan to sit down to read only a few minutes and end up completing three or four chapters. Each chapter is brief, yet packed with information. John and Brett obviously did tons of research for this book as it is filled with data, statistics, expert quotations, and recommended resources. Some people may complain about an issue they feel is important not being included in part three, but I’m sure the authors wanted their book to remain a manageable length!
But most importantly, this book is biblical. Suffused with Scripture, it teaches how to approach difficult issues with wisdom and grace. John and Brett refuse to compromise on biblical truth, yet do so out of love. I have already implemented many of the helpful tips they have provided, such as forcing myself to put my phone down at the dinner table to engage more with my family.
For far too long, the Church has been retreating from the culture. But during the Great Commission, Jesus commanded us to go into the world and make disciples (Matt. 28:19-20). And this means we must engage the culture. A Practical Guide to Culture by John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle is a wonderful resource for equipping Christians to help the next generation navigate the culture.