Should We Try to Change the Culture?

Is it even possible to strategically and intentionally change the culture? Yes. But it’s not easy. The Culture Mandate, given to all of humanity from the very beginning, makes participation in this grand endeavor an imperative, and case studies as varied as The Clapham Sect to Uncle Tom’s Cabin illustrate ways in which we might all create for change.

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It’s one thing to identify how and why culture has changed in the past, but it’s quite another to work strategically and intentionally to change the culture in the present and into the future. There are so many different factors and so many actors that are affecting the culture around us, that to talk in terms of planning and actively working to change the culture can seem audacious, idealistic, even absurd, or maniacal, but the fact that cultural change happens slowly, then all at once does not mean that cultural change happens haphazardly, randomly, or illogically.

Of course, identifying the manner by which culture changes does not address the sheer difficulty inherent in the effort. James Davison Hunter writes that “cultures are profoundly resistant to intentional change—period. They are certainly resistant to the mere exertion of will by ordinary individuals or by a well-organized movement of individuals… Culture is endlessly complex and difficult, and it is highly resistant to our passion to change it, however well-intentioned and heroic our efforts may be.” [1]

The Culture Change Mandate

To be clear, God is sovereign, and God alone is sovereign. He holds the future, and it is He alone who determines what will come to pass. Yet the amazing part of being His image-bearers, tasked with caring for and creating with what He has given us, is that we have a responsibility—a cultural mandate (also called the creation mandate) given to us all the way back in the very beginning—to actively change what is around us in a purposeful and goal-oriented way.

This command—originally given to Adam and Eve, as representatives of all humanity, in Genesis 1:28; 2:15, and reiterated to Noah post-Flood in Genesis 9:1—is a divine directive to represent our Creator God to the world as His vice-regents and to create, restore, replenish, rule over, and unlock the full potential of all that has been given to us in a way that brings glory to our Creator.

Absent this authority that has been granted to us and then planning and working for cultural change might seem clueless or narcissistic, but if we have been granted this authority, how should recognition of that weighty responsibility change our mindset? Said another way, to not work to change the culture around us is to shirk our responsibility.

Get Your Culture Change Score

We are all called to create for change. How well are you changing the culture around you? Take this free assessment to get your Culture Change Score and find out.

A Mandate for All of Us

It’s also worth noting that this culture change mandate is directed not just to believers, but also to all of humanity. Every human being—whether atheist, agnostic, skeptic, or searcher—we are all tasked with this directive simply as members of the human race.

And much like a conscience, there is something in each of us that recognizes this responsibility. We can suppress it and leave its powerful pull un-said and un-acted upon, but it’s still there within us. There is something inside each of us that resonates with a call to make the world a better place, to maximize latent resources, to invent solutions and create new things.

Our Deep Desire to Create

Jordan Raynor, author of Called to Create, writes that, when we follow our Creator God’s call to “create businesses, nonprofits, art, music, books, and other products, we are not just doing something good for the world, we are doing something God-like. This is important because it validates the deep desire in our souls to create.” [2]

Can this powerful motivation be twisted by our own selfish desires and ambitions? We have thousands of years of history that tell that story. Devastation, subjugation, pollution, exploitation, corruption, desecration. We are strip-mining our souls and finding fool’s gold.

Culture Change Case Studies

In addition to the spiritual rationale, there is also a pragmatic case for actively working to change the culture that is based on empirical evidence and case study after case study of what is possible when a committed group of people strategically and intentionally come together in common purpose. Case studies as varied as the Clapham Sect, working to change public opinion on human chattel slavery, to a group of highly influential elites in Hollywood, working to change public opinion on LGBTQ+ rights (Read: The TV Show That Changed a Nation), to Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Read: The Book That Started a War).

Get Your Culture Change Score

We are all called to create for change. How well are you changing the culture around you? Take this free assessment to get your Culture Change Score and find out.

[1] James Davison Hunter, To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World Oxford University Press, 2010. p 44, 46

[2] Jordan Raynor, Called to Create Baker Books, 2017. p 11

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Joel Ohman

Joel Ohman is a serial tech entrepreneur, author, and the chief creator at Created for Change. You can connect with Joel at or via LinkedIn.