By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
GREENWELL SPRINGS – Changing the culture for Christ in a drastic way can take just 80 minutes a month, believes Walter “Hank” Hankins Jr.
And Hankins believes it can happen with churches of all denominations throughout the country, including Louisiana Baptists.
The target audience is the country’s elected officials.
The method is Culture Impact Team, a network of individual, multi-denominational churches whose sole purpose is to be salt and light, as Jesus intended in Matthew 5:13-16. By holding just one monthly 60 minute meeting and church members taking five minutes every week to contact their elected officials about issues discussed at the meeting, the results can be monumental.
“If a pastor can get the congregation to commit to 80 minutes, we can change the culture,” said Hankins, chairman of Greenwell Springs Baptist Church’s Culture Impact Team. “When elected officials are receiving calls and e-mails and our voices and positions are being heard by standing on biblical principles, this culture would be turned around.”
The Culture Impact Team strives to equip Christians with the answer of what they can do to change society, the same question Hankins wrestled with a few years ago before he decided to join the Culture Impact Team.
“As a Christian, seeing how this country has been turned away from God and has turned away from God, seeing the decay in the morality of the government, I knew I had to get involved,” said Hankins,. “I had been praying for years about what to do. When I was invited to the Culture Impact Team, I knew I was in God’s will because I had such a peace about it.
“I just knew that we have got to stand,” he said. “God’s people have to stand now.”
According to a manual available to churches starting their own Culture Impact Team, each team has four fundamental areas on which to concentrate: inform the church leadership and congregation about the moral issues being debated and acted on in the public arena, equip the membership as to how they can engage these issues, alert them when prayer and action is needed, and mobilize them for various forms of action with a goal of making a positive impact for the greater good.
More information on how to execute each goal can be found in a 30-page manual found on the Culture Impact Team website, cultureimpact.org.
Examples of ways for each team to impact the culture includes help with voter registration, educate the church on how to vote their Biblical values, informative overviews of topics being debated within governmental chambers and learn how to contact state representatives.
Hankins stressed that the team concept is pastor to congregation driven.
“It is important there is a good relation between the Culture Impact Team at the church and the pastor,” Hankins said. “The pastor is the leader of the congregation, he is the shepherd.”
Greenwell Springs Baptist Church Pastor Jeff Meyers agrees that the success of a ministry like Culture Impact Team is dependent upon the director support and promotion for a church’s senior pastor.
“If a church implores a CIT and has the perspective of ‘it is just another thing we do’ the CIT will possess limited impact,” he said. “If the CIT is seem by the church as a part of ‘who we are’ then I believe it has the ability to truly change the church and the community it resides in.”
In the future, Hankins believes efforts such as the Culture Impact Team will become vital if Christians of all denominations are to make a difference.
“As people that are faith-based, we need to unite like never before,” Hankins said. “We need to think of preserving what rights we have left. If we don’t turn the tide, we won’t be able to speak from the pulpit which offends anybody.
“Just imagine when our elected officials and political pundits have to stop worrying about the independent voters and have to worry about people of faith who have been motivated and educated,” he continued. “The margin to victory is so slim in elections that when we have an energized, Christian base, we can win elections.”
Pastors interested in starting a Culture Impact Team at their church can find out more information at a pastor’s luncheon on Aug. 19 at noon at Greenwell Springs Baptist Church.
U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and Shreveport attorney and Freedom Guard founder Mike Johnson will brief pastors on ways to impact their culture through their congregations.
The lunch is free and registration can be accessed through greenwellsprings.com/culture-impact.
Information also can be found by visiting cultureimpact.org, e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 225.975.3116.