“CULTURAL COLLISIONS” FEB. 25, COLLEGE & YOUNG LEADER’S LEAD>DEFEND CONFERENCE
CONWAY – How should Christian college students and young leaders respond when a confused culture collides with their biblical worldview? What’s at stake? Collegiates, high school students and young professionals will find answers at the Feb. 25 “Cultural Collision” Lead>Defend Conference hosted this year by the University of Central Arkansas campus in Conway. The conference is sponsored by the College & Young Leaders Team at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.
“It’s time for the church to have a solidly Christian understanding of how to interact with secular culture,” said Dr. Walter Strickland, main conference speaker. Secular culture confronts believers with its own view of powerful deities. “The secular culture gives a bunch of worldviews and little ‘g’ gods that parade around as idols.” It’s subtle. Most don’t see this for what it is, he said. Even though the culture would not say they parade around asking people to bow down to these gods, “That’s what they’re doing.”
Strickland will address this challenge biblically. “Students don’t have a healthy understanding of the scriptures,” he said. “They’re drawn to secular ideologies or they place additional sources alongside the Bible. They don’t see the scriptures as answering the questions of the day.” The answer is to get back to the Bible “showing them the scripture is authoritative and sufficient for life and godliness.” Prof. Strickland teaches theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina. He also serves as special advisor to the president for diversity and is a diversity consultant and frequent conference speaker.
Millennials should come to the conference because of their age. “They’re in the most formative years of their lives,” said Strickland, who teaches 18-30 year olds. He speaks 2-3 times a month at Disciple Now weekends, youth groups, Athletes in Action, Cru, churches and other higher education colleges like Liberty University. “A lot of decisions they’re making as late teens or in their earlier adulthood are setting the trajectory for the rest of their lives.” Not giving into culture pressure saves time later. “Better to do it now then to look back after 20 years and have to refigure your entire life,” he said.
Strickland plans “to paint that picture very vividly, with cultural references.” In an afternoon breakout session, the diversity consultant will cover a hot-button cultural reference: Racism. In another, he’ll speak on Faith and Work.
Many Christians think of work as a secular task known as the secular/sacred divide, a theme Strickland details in his 2016 book: Every Waking Hour: An Introduction to Work and Vocation for Christians. “We often make choices that aren’t under the Lordship of Christ,” he said. “We capitulate to secular ways of making decisions in our work lives.”
America sees the race divide as unfixable because people keep applying secular solutions. “Secular culture conversations reduces us to finger pointing, but the Bible really allows us in love to sharpen each other as iron and to remove planks in our own eye.” Scripture helps people apply simple truths to this complex issue. “That’s freeing to people,” he said.
Finally, Strickland’s excited to speak at the Lead>Defend Conference because the College & Young Leaders Team exhibits leadership “unparalleled to other groups he’s worked with before, including both nationally and around the world.” To these leaders, he said, it’s not a conference that’s routine or just another check-the-yearly-meeting-box moment. “I’m buying into their vision to equip these young people to take the Gospel wherever they go in life.”