(Photo: The Christian Post/Scott Liu)
A Christian initiative seeking to build a network of leaders committed to centering the "Seven Mountains of Culture" to the values of Jesus Christ, is urging Christians to be active in engaging and transforming culture outside of church walls.
Pinnacle Forum, which was inspired by Dr. Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ International, has made it its vision to "see God at the center of our culture," and since 1996 has spread from a local ministry in Phoenix, Ariz., to a global movement.
With a strategy to gather Christian leaders in confidential forums and equip them with the tools to impact society with Christian ideals, the Forum seeks to engage the "seven mountains of culture," which it identifies as Arts and Entertainment, Business, Education, Family, Government/Military, Media, and Religion.
The Christian Post sat down on Monday with Steve Fedyski, president & CEO of Pinnacle Forum, who talked about some of those "mountains of culture," the vision and mission of the network initiative and some of the projects its members are involved in which are sparking a real positive change in culture.
Below is an edited version of the interview:
CP: How is God missing from the 'cultural mountains' of today?
Fedyski: Let's look at the education mountain. Back in the 60s, we took our prayer from the schools. So what has happened since? We can't even proclaim or pray at our schools. So right there, the education mountain has taken God right out of the school system. You can't even have the Bible as a devotional at our own schools.
The other things, like media – is our media advocating God? Is it advocating Christianity, or a culture that will please God? I'd say not. If you look at our film industry, what kind of films are coming out? What kind of television is coming out?
If God was in it, you'd have Christian films in the mainstream. You'd have our Media talking and advocating positive things, not always talking about the negative impacts of culture.
CP: What are practical things Christian pastors or leaders can do to inspire a cultural shift?
Fedyski: I think it starts with our personal relationship. We first have to have a commitment to our personal walk in Christ. We're going to come, we're going to commune, and encourage one another. We work on our personal growth in Christ. So how do you grow? The word of God; you pray, you will be around like-minded peers who will challenge you in areas of your faith, so that you can grow and develop into more of a spiritual leader.
We (at Pinnacle Forum) train and equip leaders to be leaders that are being servant leaders, who are affecting the culture, because they are now mature in their faith. Now they put God first.
The third thing is, we can affect culture by saturating the different areas in culture with leaders who are mature in their faith, who are putting Christ first, and are more courageous in their faith where God's placed them. I don't want to be a good Christian just inside my church; I want to be a good Christian when I leave the walls of my church. If I am the CEO of an organization, am I living out God's principles in my daily routine? That to me doesn't mean you have to go out and start a nonprofit or start an organization because a leader has that influence already.
When you are mature in your faith, when you are representing Christ in your community, what happens is that you might have some cause to rally Christians for the same cause we are concerned about.
For example, only 50 percent of inner-city students graduate from high school. If we have a program that we can help the [graduation rate] go up to 95-100 percent, then that's how we can affect culture.
That's our mantra – transforming leaders to transform culture.
CP: Has Christianity been better represented in the past?
Fedyski: I think there are seasons of revival and reform in Christian history but the reality is not so much that we need to go to the past as we go to the present because the past in the Bible, we've always had cultural issues.
It's not so much about are we different? Not really. There are issues in culture as there were before, but what I see in this country is that God is put on the shelf and not in the front seat. What we want to see is God brought back to the center of our family, God back to the center of our churches, and God back to the center of our community, and put Him in first seat through Jesus Christ. I can't change the past but I can work on what God would have us do in the future.
CP: In terms of engaging culture through government – would that bring about concerns for the separation of church and state?
Fedyski: The way I look at it is, I'm reaching the leaders who are in leadership and I'm asking them to be courageous about using their platform to please God and honor God. So when you get elected to office, when you are there, are you living out your faith? Or are you acquiescing to what is going to make you look favorably politically?
The idea is not so much about conquering the mountain; it's about taking that responsibility and being a Christ-centered, God-centered representative.
For example, if the opportunity came to represent a moral issue, then how are you going to vote? Be Christ-centered, don't worry about what the popular vote is.
The Word says to be strong and courageous. The Lord says we are supposed to make disciples, that we are supposed to be the light of the world. So when we talk about the church and state, the thing is we have great freedoms in this country to live out our faith. In other countries you have to sneak around to live out your faith. But most of us Christians aren't very good witnesses. Be courageous about your faith. Do it in a discerning manner, in a loving way, with gentleness and respect.
CP: What is Pinnacle Forum's association with Chuck Colson's ministries?
Fedyski: We are an alliance with the Colson Center, we are an alliance partner with many organizations that have similar missions. The similarity and the reason why we align with them is Chuck Colson's vision to teach leaders to have a biblical worldview. So when they're out in the market place, they know how to correctly present a good Christian model, and how to articulate their faith.
I personally have gone through some of the training at Colson's center, which is called the Centurions Program, which is an executive MBA-type training of leaders for a better understanding of how to articulate your faith.
CP: What are some projects Pinnacle Forum members are currently working on?
Fedyski: One is by Chuck Stetson, who is a venture capitalist in New York City. Chuck had a passion to get the Bible as literature in high schools. And so the idea is, you can't get the devotional Bible into a public school – it's against our laws. However, you can actually get the Bible as literature into an elective course into public school. And so this project was inspired and birthed by a Pinnacle Forum partner, he rallied some private and public center support, and now, a few years later, the Bible is taught as an elective course in over 700 hundred high schools and over 43 states have approved and accepted this into their schools. This is what I mean about rallying the troops for a common cause.
Seventy-one percent of students who have taken that course said that they would use the Bible as a guidepost for their life. And now they see a reason for studying the word of God and the Bible. A civic project, brought in by Christians to the public schools has resulted in more people being aware of the influence of the Bible.
Pinnacle Forum's official website offers information on how people can join or start a local forum with other members, as well as the schedule for upcoming national events.