Developments That Changed Culture

This article series presents Pastor Erik's Twitter posts as articles, making them accessible for everyone to read, regardless of their access to Twitter. You can find Erik's original Twitter thread HERE

American culture—even in the South—has shifted in the last 12+ yrs into a post-Christian context. When I planted in 2006, Christianity still had a cache of respectability, but that’s gone. Pastors must know why.

8 Successive Developments that Changed the Culture:

1. The Rise of the New Atheists

Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, and others rose to prominence around 2008. They were not only unbelievers, but aggressively went on offense against Christianity.

Their arguments were nothing dramatically new, but they spread like wildfire. Hitchens was charismatic and humorous, which gave his rhetoric against Christianity bite and acceptance. Most Christians and churches were ill-prepared to respond.

2. The Creation and Growth of Social Media

One of the reasons the New Atheists garnered such attention was the rise and spread of social media platforms. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and others became conduits for constant communication and information.

Social media opened up a world of information that normally would have never made it beyond certain circles. Example: Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris would barely be known outside of academic, university settings. They were intellectual elites. But now everyone could hear them.

3. The Normalization of Progressive Ideology

In 2015, on the heels of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, MO, the progressive ideologies that once stayed contained in university classrooms spilled out into pop-culture.

Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality ideas were parroted by media, politicians, celebrities, and eventually evangelical leaders. The debates that played out on social media, centered on race and justice, as well as LGTBQ+ issues.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage and the tide of public opinion shifted toward embracing these progressive ideologies.

4. The Election of Donald Trump

The 2016 election put Trump in office and started a four year period of fighting and endless debate about his character. The key to understand from a Christian perspective is that believers had vastly different views on Trump.

Some loved him. Others voted for him even though they disliked his character traits. Others refused to vote for him. Some believed a vote for Trump undermined your claim to being a Christian. That is a vast spectrum. Trump became a lighting rod for Christians.

Some were so obsessed with Trump and treated him as a savior to America. Others were so obsessed that they believed any critique or accusation of him as gospel. Trump didn’t create a divide within the church…he simply exposed it.

5. COVID 19

Toward the end of Trump’s term, COVID came. March of 2020 brought the next massive dividing point. In the beginning, most Christians aligned with quarantines and masking mandates. But as time passed and data changed, Christians divided.

How people viewed COVID and the government response became another dividing point. Masks, vaccines, shutdowns, and quarantines all became points of contention. Christians landed in different places on these things and emotions ran high in discussing the proper approach.

6. BLM Movement

As Trump and COVID debates raged, then came the death of George Floyd for the world to witness. This became a tipping point for debates about policing tactics and accountability. Protests surfed across the country. So did riots and looting.

The Black Lives Matter movement caused debates as people learned the organization had socialist/Marists foundations and vision. People fought over defunding the police. Some opted for ‘All Lives Matter’ responses. Others embraced BLM.

7. The 2020 Election

The election of Biden over Trump brought more controversy and debates. Many felt there was something fishy about the mail-in ballots. Others declared the election stolen and stormed the Capitol Hill to protest (some believing to bring about a change).

These events fractured the country further. Christians, like all the other events, divided over what the truth was and how to respond.

8. Sex abuse in the Church

The latest point of fracturing and harm to the church’s credibility in the culture was the evidence and allegations of sex abuse scandals and cover-ups in churches and Christian institutions.

While disproportionate to the number of churches and leaders where no sex abuse has occurred, the number was still beyond belief for people and a place whose character should be marked by holiness. This did incredible damage to the church’s witness.

These 8 things are largely responsible for why things have changed so rapidly in the last 12+ years. The culture’s view and opinions of the church/Christians are shaped by how they view many of the things above.

I don’t think it means we have to address each issue. But understanding how our culture arrived here helps us in our call to make disciples. The days of planting a church and reaching your community because you have cool music or coffee are over. The automatic respect is gone.

Erik is the Lead Pastor of The Journey Church in Lebanon. He also founded Knowing Jesus Ministries, a non-profit organization which exists to proclaim timeless truth for everyday life. He is married to Katrina, and has three children: Kaleb (who went to be with the Lord), Kaleigh Grace, and Kyra Piper.







  • Cultural Christianity,  Post-Christianity,  The Church