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October 18, 2023

How Are NSA Alumni Shaping Culture?

New Saint Andrews College seeks to graduate leaders who shape culture. Shaping culture is honoring God's word by building God's kingdom here in this world. The godless world is warring against the kingdom of God and is fighting against those who seek to build His kingdom. This means that shaping culture is not a simple task. It requires determination, hard work, and faithfulness to God’s call on our lives. Shaping culture requires pushing back against the darkness by shining the light of the gospel on all aspects of life. 

One common danger for Christians is to bifurcate their lives into spiritual and non-spiritual activities, thinking there are some things we do that have no spiritual significance. On the contrary, everything a Christian does must honor God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Christians must live their lives coram deo, before the face of God. This truth means everything we do has a spiritual meaning. We are either shaping culture for Christ or we are shaping culture for someone else. 

Shaping culture requires men and women to be thoughtful about how they live, from the significant activities to the day-to-day decisions of life. There is no place where one is free to live outside the authority of Christ. 

 I recently sat down with two alumni, Mike Church and Kaleb Trotter, and I asked them about shaping culture. They both discussed a person's various callings and how Christians need to build God’s kingdom in each of these vocations.  

Kaleb Trotter, who graduated from NSA in 2012, talked about his different responsibilities and how he sees each one as a way of shaping culture. He began by talking about his family. He said, “I am shaping culture by coming home with energy to help teach my children and doing family devotions at night. I am shaping culture by bringing my family to worship on Sunday and by worshipping God faithfully.” In a time when many families are falling apart, a strong family grounded on God’s word makes a profound impact on the godless culture.  

The reality is faithful worship of the living God is vital to changing hearts and lives. NSA graduates understand this and they are regularly leading and serving in their local churches. Kaleb told me that he works in his church as a deacon. He said that through this work, he "seeks to build up the body of Christ.” 

One of the areas that NSA seeks to create leaders is in the Christian church. This is an essential institution in the world because it is the body of Christ. Jesus teaches about the importance of this work in Matthew 5 when he teaches his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” Worship is central to shaping culture. Every Sunday, Christians are made more like Jesus by worshipping Him and communing with Him. Christian worship is a way of bringing flavor to the world. 

NSA specifically seeks to recover true biblical worship in church music. Dr. David Erb, fellow of Music at NSA, regularly talks about the importance of Church music. He says, “We are trying to equip students in whatever station of life they find themselves to be better equipped to interact with music and to be able to weigh in on it, in a more knowledgeable way.”

During my conversation with Mike Church, who graduated from NSA in 2007, he talked about how Christians shape culture in a variety of callings. He said, “Whether you are a mom raising kids, a dad helping raise kids, leading in your church, building a business, or just working as an employee, there are so many different ways to help shape the culture around you.” 

Shaping culture happens like yeast in dough: it works out into all sorts of places, slowly bringing life to the dough. It can sometimes seem like Christians are not doing a lot to shape culture, but the reality is that faithful daily living has a long-term impact on the world.  

Mike acknowledged that there are other significant ways to be a leader who shapes culture. He said, “Not to water down culture shaping and building. I do think that those goals of doing documentaries, doing the next film, being in political leadership, are all really important and we should be building towards them, but there are ways to do that work no matter where God places you.”

Shaping culture is not a simple task. Rather the project is like growing and tending a garden. There are many seeds to plant and also many weeds to pull. Leaders who shape culture require the right tools so they can build up the truth and also tear down lies. NSA’s liberal arts program equips men and women with the necessary tools to get to work wherever they are so they can fight back the darkness with the light of God’s word.