How Do You Keep Up on Culture?

I get asked this question quite often: "How do I stay current so I can leverage culture?" It is a great question, and is a struggle, especially for somone coming out of a traditional environment. You just need a place to start, right?

Well, I've always given an answer to this question. But my best answer pales in comparison to the wisdom of Scott Hodge. Here is the answer he gave in a brilliant blog post from a couple days ago...

  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 Church - 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 your son.  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.

Thanks, Scott Hodge, for your help. I know this wisdom will help hundreds of leaders!

Tim Stevens4 Comments